“The mind performs a penitential act of perceiving its deficiency, but there it stops. It declares war against the enemy, but it does not levy a troop not make an excursion into his country. It languishes in inaction, and, at the end of a year, or of seven years, it is found no better, and therefore far worse than at the beginning – far worse because the demand runs on increasing and the performance does not.”
Emerson, in a gloomy mood, wrote this entry in his journal 150 years ago, communicating with every sage and thinker of every religion before and after, and talking to me today, as if he was sitting at the same desk. We are all busy understanding the art of self-improvement. I wonder what AA would have to say about the above quote. Every day is a new battleground for inner peace. The war! My mind knows what’s to be done to improve the deficiencies of my behavior, the things I do that make me less than happy – and yet, and yet, the battle isn’t fully waged, the sloth sloths on.
Nine days into the Forty that are this year’s personal battleground for personal change– for war against all inner foes that stop each one of us from a higher score on the happiness chart – nine days and what? Can I report on progress? Or am I too eager for quick results? Too impatient? The process has just begun; the war begins with drummers drumming a new beat.
I don’t want my mind to stop at perception and complaint. I WANT to change some patterns of behavior. I want to at least be fully aware of what my inner terrorists, invited by me to provide pleasure and distraction, are ultimately doing to my joy, satisfactions, achievement, and personal progress. Awareness of my shortcomings will bring, I trust, to their gentle but firm correction. Day nine: assess the battleground. Listen to the drumbeat of change, take a few minutes to go back and review the list of 1-2 items that require change in my life. What about this change terrifies me? What about these changes can begin with a single simple step.
M., a friend of mine who found salvation in AA, often speaks about the amazing transformation possible when mind is set to the task and heart joins along. Today’s task: focus on uniting brain and heart, mind and soul, feeling and thinking – what do I want to change. And just listen to the drums of change beating in the background. Tomorrow is another day. I’ve got an action plan – a recipe for change, courtesy of a famous doctor, dead for millennia, but immortal too.
Stay tuned for day 10.
(and talk to me – is this helpful? mental masturbation? too long? happy to make this warfare more useful per feedback.)