It’s a new year. Time for resolutions. For reviewing one’s life, endeavoring to cull the bad habits and inculcate worthy pursuits into the daily routine. And here comes the problem. The minute that I decide that a given trait is “bad”, and needing to be tossed on the psychological scrap heap, becomes the moment that such a character flaw burns itself into the skin of my consciousness. I suppose that one can compare it to going on a diet. Some foods are ‘evil’ and others ‘virtuous’. But the moment that such foods are categorized as such becomes the moment that insufferable cravings are born. Before I knew that cream cheese was ‘bad’, it had no special appeal to me. I could take it or leave it. Now that cream cheese is off limits, I can’t stop thinking about how I can sneak it into every recipe I make. It is the same with character traits. We decide that certain things are desirable above others- it is good to be unselfish, kind, generous, and loving, while it is bad to be reserved, reactionary, slow to respond or cynical. Whatever the trait may be, if we decide that it must be excised, it malignantly transforms and metastasizes. Perhaps it is the very act of labeling something as ‘forbidden’ that makes it so very irresistible. If butter and sugar were good for us, would we gradually grow tired of them? If it was deplorable to eat salad or be seen ladling soup at a homeless shelter, would we see people surreptitiously volunteering or flagrantly growing vegetable gardens? And if people are genuinely good inside, would we be more forgiving of lapses of judgement knowing that we too have hearts of gold and feet of clay?
Ponderings of mind, or heart?