Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Don't Give Up Too Soon

I'm amazed at our capacity as human beings to be conditioned. We sometimes learn things that help us and other times we learn things that hold us back. It is so important to look at our patterns of learning, conditioning and belief.

I had an interesting experience this past week. Years ago, I created a database system using Microsoft Access '97. The database houses all my books, music CDs, inspirational quotes, affirmations, songs, movies, jokes, etc. It was one of my final projects in graduate school when I was getting my master's degree in Spiritual Psychology. In this project I was merging my software design/programming background with my love of personal and spiritual growth resources. It was a complex and fantastic project.

When the time came to upgrade to the new version of Access, 2000, everything went smoothly. The software upgrade went off without a hitch.

When the time came to upgrade yet again, to Access, 2003, things did not go so smoothly. My database would not run with the new version of Access. I got a cryptic error message and was unable to access my data. Not good.

I was busy at the time, and decided to postpone upgrading Access. I reinstalled Access 2000, until such a time that I could figure out the incompatibilities with my database. In other words, I procrastinated and accepted that my database was incompatible with the new software.

Here we are, 4 years later and I am contemplating upgrading to Office 2007, which of course, includes Access 2007. One of my big concerns is my database. How long can I stick with Access 2000? Will it continue to work when I enter the new world of Office 2007? What about once I upgrade to Vista? I've had a lot of anxiety about this, because I have a huge amount of data in this database.

I'm not sure what possessed me this past week, but as I contemplated the coming upgrade, I decided to once again, try to upgrade to Access 2003. I wanted to see if I could find a 'back door' into my database. If I could succeed in Access 2003, I would feel more comfortable about moving on to Access 2007.

I must admit, that I was truly shocked, when I installed Access 2003 and although I received a couple of 'warnings' I was allowed to open my database normally and access all my data! Evidently, I was not the only one to experience that problem, and Microsoft, at some point, had addressed it and allowed older databases to be opened!

I had simply 'accepted' that it was incompatible and 'worked around' the incompatibility by using an older version. Eventually my work around was not going to be acceptable, and that is what prompted me to try again. I wonder how long ago this problem was fixed?

I'm reminded of the story of how elephants are trained. When they are babies, they are tethered to an enormous stake in the ground. The baby elephants struggle and struggle to break free, but the rope and stake are too strong for them to escape from. They are truly stuck there. The elephants come to know that when they have that rope around them, they cannot go further than a few feet in any direction. Interestingly enough, as the elephant grows older, the stake in the ground is replaced with a tiny wooden stake. The elephant could easily break free at any time. Yet it doesn't. It has learned to equate the rope around their neck with not being able to move. The elephant no longer tries, because it believes there is no use.

I was a bit like the elephant when it came to upgrading my version of Access, and as a result, I've lived for years with an older version of the software, and a persistent anxiety about the day my database would be obsolete!

All of this was unnecessary, because the problem, at some point, was resolved, but I stopped looking for the solution. I put it off and eventually forgot about it, all the while, living with a sub-optimal solution. Amazing.

I think it is so important for us to look at the ways we 'condition' ourselves to accept things and stop trying for something better! What we have learned, can be unlearned. We need to always remember giant elephants standing around with a small rope around their neck, draped over a railing. What keeps them there? What keeps us where we are? It's worth considering.

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