When three paranormal fantasy superstar authors (Kresley Cole, Larissa Ione and Gena Showalter) get together to put out an anthology, Blood Red Kiss, well, I had to read it, of course. I was a bit disappointed to see that the Kresley Cole offering was a retread of “Warlord Wants Forever,” an excellent short story, but one I’ve read and listened to, although not written about previously. The second offering, by Larissa Ione, called “Forsaken by Night,” was a real page turner and left me wanting more, as only a master writer can do. In the story, Ms. Ione gives us just enough of the world building to give the story weight and coherence, but not so much that I fully understand all that I’d like to know. She skillfully weaves several themes into the short piece, but the one that caught my attention, as it often does, is the theme of change. Apparently, change is the one constant for humans and paranormals alike. The thing about change is that it can be fast and dramatic, as in a revolution, or slow and easy, as in evolutionary change.
In this story, the protagonist is forced to accept that the clan leader who exiled him more than a decade previously had changed enough to warrant a second chance, even as the protagonist himself was given a second chance based on his own evolution. That was the most dramatic element of the story—the lack of drama. Neither the outcast nor the clan leader who exiled him had had any sort of revolutionary shift. Just the steady forward movement toward wisdom and growth that constitutes evolution. Less an earthquake than the gradual erosion of rock under running water.
Evolution is not nearly as sexy as revolution. The slow and steady march of time that leads us toward progressive and meaningful change isn’t glamorous, and often we don’t even know it’s occurring. It’s not until we realize that we are meeting a situation with a new set of eyes and seeing things in a different way than we used to, or we notice that we are more or less reactive than before that we realize that evolution has happened and we are no longer who we were.
Sometimes, these evolutionary changes are for the better, but not always. I’ve learned to avoid wearing yoga leggings or sweats all the time, or really anything with spandex in it, because I don’t notice when I’m slowly gaining weight until the muffin top threatens to breach even my stretchy pants and my regular clothes no longer fit. Similarly, we can skip a trip or two to the gym for a week or two in a row, but we need to be careful because before we know it, we’re out of the habit of working out entirely and that pesky muffin top is back. Or we have a couple glasses of wine several times a week, which turns into every night, which turns into a drinking problem down the road. We’ve all been in one or more of these situations where the slow creep of bad habits turns into a much bigger problem than we realized because the progression was so incremental.
On the other hand, good habits can slip in under our radar as well, and before we know it, we’re doing well without really trying. That’s the theory behind adding green foods (i.e. veggies) to our plates; if we slowly increase our consumption of the good stuff, we’ll have less and less room for the junk food that is ruining our health. Adding one minute a week to our treadmill or elliptical routine gets us over an hour by the end of a year if we started out at ten minutes. Adding five seconds every few days to our planks gets us to two minutes without our ever noticing it.
And what about other habits that seems so overwhelming when viewed in their entireties? Like people pleasing? Or the opposite of that, being a curmudgeon? Taking tiny steps out of our comfort zones can make a big difference. Even something as small as saying we didn’t enjoy a movie when our friend clearly did can begin an inexorable evolution toward speaking our truth. Every little drop of water over that stone is one more step toward transformation, maybe from rough to smooth or heavy to light or sadness to joy. Each small step counts. Not dramatically, in and of itself, but slowly and steadily over time.
The thing about evolution is that it’s a lot less scary than revolution. And it tends to leave much less of a mess in its wake. In my work as a health coach, I often tell people that while a pill or maybe surgery might seem to work faster, the mess such revolutionary tactics create often hardly seems worth it. It’s like going out to dinner because we don’t feel like cooking. Most of the time, it’s actually faster and easier to throw something together than to get in the car, drive to the restaurant, order our food, wait for it, send it back because something wasn’t right, eat it, drive home, etc. It may seem like it would be easier, and in some respects it is. But until we get a Star Trek-like device that can conjure whatever we want to eat out of thin air, most nights it’s easier to just eat stay put.
As a society, we don’t like to wait much. We have the collective attention spans of chimps on crack. With evolutionary changes, that can actually work in our favor. Sometimes change happens when we were paying attention to something else. Like we realize that “all of a sudden” we’re looking forward to yoga class, or we wake up one day and understand that the ex-boyfriend we exiled to the friend zone is stirring decidedly more-than-friendly feelings. Or we realize that all the work we’ve done to launch a new business over the past five years has made us an “overnight success.” The payoff in each of these situations was the result of evolution, even though, from the outside, it might appear revolutionary.
So don’t knock evolution till you try it. As in Larissa Ione’s story in Blood Red Kiss, we may find that change happens, even when we aren’t paying attention. If it’s change we like, we’ll continue to go with the flow. If we find we’ve fallen—slowly—into bad habits, it might take a more revolutionary approach to stem the flow. But evolution beats revolution for ease and comfort every time, although it makes for a more mature story.