Now I know this isn‘t really Chinese culture OR forestry related but a thought that has been crossing my mind quite a lot recently.
So a lot I hear from people (not necessarily saying that to me) is „You‘re perfect, just the way you are.“ or „Stay as you are.“, even „Don‘t let society make you somebody else.“. Now as I do agree to a certain extent with the last one, I am a strong denier of the first two. For the record I do not believe that there is any good coming out if you don‘t work on yourself constantly. This might result in setbacks and whatever but in general somebody trying to stay the same is somebody taking small steps backwards everyday. I‘m not saying I‘m a role model in doing the opposite, and yes, I fail quite regularly, but I haven‘t had the intention of staying the same for even once in my life.
It‘s a very fine line between telling people „I‘m not happy with you.“ and telling them „I like you but I‘d never take from you the opportunity to change yourself to the kind of person you desire to be.“
George Bernard Shaw once said „Life is not about finding yourself, it‘s about creating yourself.“. One of the truest statements in my belief. There is always going to be a part of ourselves we won‘t like. I hate being lazy at times I shouldn‘t be, not always reaching for my highest or even for whatever reason missing out on running sometimes.
Now you could say this leaves you always a frustrated person. Why are we not allowed to be happy with ourselves? I think you can also be happy and still discontent with yourself. Because it is a journey. Because every single time you expand your limits you feel this deep inner joy of facing a struggle – sometimes it doesn‘t even matter if you win!
Also sometimes we just don‘t want to be things we are right now. Do I want to be a Youtube addict? No. Do I want to waste my evenings watching movies just to take my mind of something? Certainly not, but sometimes I do. I feel I do have a right to feel discontent about myself because – quite frankly – I‘m not all that great and there is a huge deal of things I should and want to change about myself.
Therefore I cannot understand people who say they wouldn‘t change anything or say others are perfect the way they are. It‘s become quite the trend recently in our society to feel this way. I struggled with this idea for a long time but I could not honestly tell a person they‘re perfect the way the are. Alone cause a struggling person is so much more beautiful than one in stagnation.
I think we can actually learn a lot about that from business entrepreneurs and enterprises. Nobody would ever tell Apple to just stay the same – actually right now the opposite is happening. Because the iPhone 5 was kinda average people start complaining and being unhappy – but Apple stayed only the same, essentially! We all know there‘re limits of growth (one of those books I‘m committed to read in the future) but I think especially for personal development there aren‘t. I think there‘s always a way to treat the people around you better, make your own day more splendid or exceed expectations you and others have in yourself. And I think if we‘d finally stop clinging to a stage we are at the world would become a much more beautiful place.
This also applies to things where you think you got it figured out. It‘s especially easy to stop improving there. Like let‘s say you‘re good at treating people well. At some point you‘ll stop thinking of ways to treat them even better. But you could. And who‘s really saying it‘s enough? The people telling you you‘re doing that perfectly? Masterfully? Splendidly? Think hard if you‘re truly content with the level you‘re at.
Another thing is constantly questioning the paths you‘re walking on. It‘s even harder to do this. Let‘s take a personal example from my life: The idea of veganism having actually more health benefits has shaped my thinking for years now. So I intuitively avoided eggs and milk. But recently I got myself up to do some more research on that – not only from pro-vegan or pro-vegetarian/omnivore pages – and I‘m not so sure anymore what is the truth. I notice right now health benefits from consuming those products so I‘m questioning a lot about that! In this case it‘s a search for truth but also this has to be done! Don‘t ever be content with your level of knowledge, don‘t ever think you really know the truth! You can have opinions (as we all have) but claiming to really know is something that maybe only ignorant people can do. So (as you might figure) I‘m for example also learning right now to not think I know the truth – something which is especially under environmentalists nearly a disease.
But back to the start: So when I see a person complaining about something like wanting to live healthier I wanna be able to tell them instead of „It‘s fine, you‘re trying so hard already.“ „I totally agree. Keep going, I know you can do it and you will be much happier if you achieve that.“
And now (especially for the German readers but I‘m gonna put up an English translation anyways) a poem from Hermann Hesse, one of my favorites, and in my opinion quite fitting:
Wie jede Blüte welkt und jede Jugend
Dem Alter weicht, blüht jede Lebensstufe,
Blüht jede Weisheit auch und jede Tugend
Zu ihrer Zeit und darf nicht ewig dauern.
Es muß das Herz bei jedem Lebensrufe
Bereit zum Abschied sein und Neubeginne,
Um sich in Tapferkeit und ohne Trauern
In andre, neue Bindungen zu geben.
Und jedem Anfang wohnt ein Zauber inne,
Der uns beschützt und der uns hilft, zu leben.
Wir sollen heiter Raum um Raum durchschreiten,
An keinem wie an einer Heimat hängen,
Der Weltgeist will nicht fesseln uns und engen,
Er will uns Stuf’ um Stufe heben, weiten.
Kaum sind wir heimisch einem Lebenskreise
Und traulich eingewohnt, so droht Erschlaffen,
Nur wer bereit zu Aufbruch ist und Reise,
Mag lähmender Gewöhnung sich entraffen.
Es wird vielleicht auch noch die Todesstunde
Uns neuen Räumen jung entgegen senden,
Des Lebens Ruf an uns wird niemals enden…
Wohlan denn, Herz, nimm Abschied und gesunde!
Like ev’ry flower wilts, like youth is fading
and turns to age, so also one’s achieving:
Each virtue and each wisdom needs parading
in one’s own time, and must not last forever.
The heart must be, at each new call for leaving,
prepared to part and start without the tragic,
without the grief – with courage to endeavor
a novel bond, a disparate connection:
for each beginning bears a special magic
that nurtures living and bestows protection.
We’ll walk from space to space in glad progression
and should not cling to one as homestead for us.
The cosmic spirit will not bind nor bore us;
it lifts and widens us in ev’ry session:
for hardly set in one of life’s expanses
we make it home, and apathy commences.
But only he, who travels and takes chances,
can break the habits’ paralyzing stances.
It might be, even, that the last of hours
will make us once again a youthful lover:
The call of life to us forever flowers…
Anon, my heart: Say farewell and recover!
(translation by Walter A. Aue from http://myweb.dal.ca/waue/Trans/Hesse-Stufen.html)
P.S. Not gonna put this up as well but if you also wanna have a fitting song, listen to „Addicted“ by Bliss n Eso^^