my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?


ReInvention and the Queen of Mood Swings

Listening to the political talk shows this morning, I hear a non-sequitur quote from some com-mentator: "No one really changes. They just become more of what they are."

Is that true?

For better and worse, I think so.

I have a corollary to it: "You take yourself with you wherever you go."

I think there is a core self that, no matter the changes in relationships, in jobs, in environment, eventually manifests in behavior. And that there is baserock consistency to that behavior.

I think the reason for that is that we -- on a spiritual level, sometimes consciously, mostly unconsciously -- have determined that we have certain objectives to accomplish within a lifetime, and we assiduously work toward accomplishment of those objectives.

This isn't to say the objectives are always noble, or even desirable. Or that our behavior is either noble or desirable. It's just that we have a manifest destiny and one way or the other, we are determined to realize it.

Sadly, that destiny can be a failure of a life. That may actually be the lesson we set out for ourselves to learn.

I want us to be able to change, to modify our reactions, to alter our behavior. I don't want to think that we are in some sort of instinctive lockstep, heading toward the edge of our respective cliffs.

But, hey, maybe it's not so bad to be bent and broken on the rocks below. Might be edifying.
photograph by Ansel Adams


Blogger Doug said...

Yeah, I'm not sure I believe in failed lives. We are conceived, metabolize a little, chase what's bad for us, run from what's good for us and whether we catch or are caught, we experience, appreciate, want, wish, try and then fertilize. Salut!

8:40 AM

Blogger katiedid said...

"But, hey, maybe it's not so bad to be bent and broken on the rocks below."

Have you ever listened to that Ani Difranco song, "Buildings and Bridges?" (It's a fave of mine, admittedly.) It sums up the chorus with the aphorism, "what doesn't bend breaks." I like to think that we do change, and if we are acting according to our best and most vulnerable part of ourselves, then we do so out of our most basic human instincts for kindness. Kindness to ourselves or others - whichever. I think when we bend, we don't break up on the rocks, we simply flex our thinking and behavior to demonstrate that better self... My friend Jacob once said, "There seems to be a lot of reminding myself these days to be a good person. I think the more sensible idea would be to just be a better person. It's the easiest thing in the world." I like to think that we don't work in terms of objectives, which act more as mileposts of achievement, than as much as I think we (when we're being sincere) work towards being more flexible, buoyant people when we do hit those rocks that are supposed to be in our way.

11:02 PM

Blogger WinterWheat said...

Wow, such a thought-provoking and intelligent post (and Katie's response too).

I've been thinking a lot about this lately because I've finally identified a pattern in my behavior whereby I keep allowing bullies into my life. Not men, women. I never wanted to believe that psychobabble about reliving situations over and over in an attempt to make them work differently THIS TIME, but I'm resigning myself to the fact that that's true, at least in my life.

So how to bend and change direction? I guess to recognize that what's lost is lost, and I can't reclaim it by living it out again in attempts to "fix" it. If you don't recognize your patterns, then yes, you are set for life ("as the twig is bent, so the tree is formed..."), but if you recognize them, if you are brave enough to see yourself clearly (perhaps with assistance from a therapist or loving friend), then I think there is hope for change. You can't become someone else, but you can become a purer version of who you are. Your actions can begin to reflect your innate warmth and intelligence and empathy rather than masking them.

I'm beginning to practice this simply by being mindful of the kind of example I'm setting for my daughter. I want to be assertive but not hostile, composed but not aloof, steadfast but not rigid, motivated but not ultra-competitive. I've got a long way to go, but practice makes perfect, right?

9:17 AM

Blogger Doug said...

Lapin, lapin, ma chere!

8:18 AM

Blogger Tan Lucy Pez said...

Rabbit Rabbit.

"I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor."
Henry David Thoreau

I believe! I believe we can and do change, and some change a lot. But it probably has to be done deliberately.

4:19 PM


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