The New You

You come back from the mountain or the silent retreat or the conference:

You are a CHANGED man.

You see it all so clearly: how things were, and how they now will be.

Everything you do is infused with the shock of your new power: the way you brush your teeth, the way you put on your pants, the way you lift the lid of the frying pan.

You are now, finally, in the light.

You think back, shaking your head in amusement at the old stupors. Ah, to finally be free of all that, for your course to be gathered and clear, for your life to be one pure line of action.

And then, one of your kids knocks a full glass of juice to the floor.

You feel a momentary stab of the old pain, but in an instant you are back, sweeping up the glass with your new power and poise.

Then you remember that the truck is three months overdue for an oil change. There is a flash of annoyance and embarrassment, but you feel your new power wash it away, like a brief wound on the flank of an instantly healing god.

But then, a deeper blade: you see, in a flicker of her eyes, your wife’s skepticism.

A look that says “So, you’re a changed man, huh? Well I’ve seen this all before. We both know you’ll be back to your old ways soon enough. But you go ahead and enjoy your little transformation fantasy for now.”

You want to shout: “Don’t you know? This is the new me!”

But even as you think the words, her doubt begins the slow sucking poison… even then you feel yourself slipping from the mountaintop you thought you’d won forever.

And right there, before your eyes, your new vision for your life is reclaimed and devoured by the old.

Add so the cycle of would-be transformation plays out again and again.

And each time you’re brought shocked and reeling back to your old reality…

Each time you hit the end of the tether you thought you’d broken…

Each time you look, panting in the mud, back up to the mountaintop you fell from…

You’re tempted to believe that maybe your true place is here in the mud after all.

And you feel the part of you that still strives and believes and hopes die a little more.

And the callous around your heart grows a layer thicker.

But know this: you, there in the mud isn’t proof of failure, or some indicator of your “true place in the world.”

It’s merely one part of the transformation cycle ALL striving men must endure.

So ignore the welling self-reproach.

Ignore the temptation to despair.

Cut the callous from your heart with a knife.

Fight with every fiber to protect and preserve the part of you still capable of earnest consideration, of belief, of hope, of trying again:

Protect it with the same power and terrifying force with which you protect your wife and children.

For everything you desire…

Everything you long to provide them with…

All of it grows from the seed of that one holy tireless spark.

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