I know someone who moves every few years as if he can leave his unhappiness at the old address! He often changes hairstyles and one can recognize the change of the seasons by the new clothes he buys! A few years ago, deciding that the source of his discontent was his nose, he went into the hospital and had it radically restructured. Once the bandages came off he was thrilled with his new self… for one month! The morning finally came when he stared at his new image in the mirror and realized that he still hated who he was inside.
It is true that we can and should change and grow. We can try a new hairstyle, new clothes… even a new nose! But if the discontented spirit inside is still the same then that is where the growth is most essentially needed! For example, despite the new hairdo, clothes and nose, my friend who is quick to anger is still quick to anger and which takes him down paths he really wishes he hadn’t gone! Clearly it is his tendency towards anger that needs to be altered and not his shirts and pants!
Change within begins with the struggle to understand. Understanding can come from looking at the motives for why we do what we do. Real growth occurs when wrong motives are taken in hand and turned into good motives. My friend has left detailed instructions regarding his death… the music to be used at his funeral, the food to be served afterwards, even the clothes that he should be laid out in. How terrible it would be for him to say at the time of his death as a character in a novel I read had said, “It’s been a wonderful life. I wish I understood it.”