“Gonna make a difference gonna make it right”
“Who am I to be blind pretending not to see their need”
“I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways, no message could’ve been any clearer if you wanna make the world a better place then look at yourself and make a change”
Now I can’t confess personally to be any huge fan of Michael Jackson, but of this song in particular I am. A lot of times the first port of call before making a change and making a difference needs to be yourself, sometimes you have to sort yourself out before you can go about sorting anything else out. This was the conclusion I have come to myself many many times over the years, and one I have seen a lot of my friends come to also.
When I look at my mirror I see a post it note of to do lists, I see my reflection, and I see a quote written in permanent marker “life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass its about learning to dance in the rain”- one of the most challenging quotes I myself have ever come across, one I’ve mentioned countless times! Teaching me I cannot just say “I will be happy when’ and resign myself to being miserable until my exams are over, or until I’ve lost the extra bit of weight. That my whole life I could have stormy periods of time and that I have to learn to dance, have to stare down the ‘man in the mirror’ and find that smile, amidst the stress and anxiety that has pushed away.
I think a lot of times relationships can go awry, work can get difficult and stress can build up and we don’t realize why, but its because we need someone to almost hold a compact up to us and say look at yourself first, stop throwing yourself into projects, trying to save everyone other than yourself. Sort yourself out and then focus on all these things. Your biggest obstacle is often yourself, but personal struggles can and are being harnessed for good.
“Heal the tree and the fruit will change.”
In my a-level RS we are learning about virtue ethics. And how according to the theorist Macintyre if you find it hard to be a good person yet you try your hardest to be one you are actually more virtuous than a person who is equally as good as you but doesn’t need to try. I should have found this encouraging, it means that even if sometimes I have to try that bit harder to be a good friend it doesn’t make me a bad person it actually makes me a better person for committing the effort to try. Because that’s what virtue ethics is all about, it’s ‘agent centered’ its all about changing your character not just your actions. Like this quote, in virtue ethics it explains sometimes you need to focus on yourself and we discussed in class how sometimes you need to focus on yourself before focusing on others. If you heal the tree the fruit will change, if your holding onto anger, sadness, resentment or regret then the only fruit you’re producing will be a tired effort here, and an exhausted good deed there.
If we take the time to fix ourselves to become the people we want to be, then our actions will change. I have always found the quote “the fruits of your labour” a bit funny, but in this case it’s applicable, if the tree is damaged then what will that labour produce but damaged fruit? If you take the time to heal the tree then the fruit will becoming abundantly more and abundantly better!
So what does my tree look like? Well a while ago I realized it looked tired, but more than that it was covered in moss and decay, layers upon layers of insecurities, stress and anxiety encircling the tree.
And so recently I’ve been working on changing that, I’ve realized that our lives pass in seasons….not pre-set like autumn and winter but different lengths we can have long seasons of hardships and short seasons of joy or if we’re lucky the other way around. I’ve realized that this year I’ve been in a season of change and it was exhilarating and exciting and left me breathless….in a stunned, exhausted kind of way. And now I see that I’m in a season of growth and so I am working at healing the tree to change the fruit. Because I don’t want the ‘fruits of my labor’ to be a tired effort here, of spreading my exhausted self too thinly.
So what do you think? Does the ‘man in the mirror’ need a talking to today?
What season of your life are you in and how much healing is happening or needs to happen?