The shape we take

We get there by degrees

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Personality has always seemed a solid thing to me, as part of the original package as our genes. After all, who we are certainly couldn’t be developed as haphazardly as a bad habit we pick up. And yet as Lao Tzu maps it out, there is a progression to personality that makes sense:
 
“Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”
 
In that way I can see how a string of bitter thoughts can become an entrenched view point which can turn into an angry old lady who chases kids away with a broom.

In a similar way, mass media entrepreneur Peter Barton describes how tiny corruptions of our soul can sneak up on us:

“By increments so exquisitely gradual that they might have passed unnoticed, I could have ended up being totally untrue to myself and living a life I hated.”

This, too, is easy to see -- how we can veer away from our authenticity one fakery at a time until we become unrecognizable to ourselves.
 
Maybe the work of arriving at who we truly are is how Michelangelo describes the process of sculpting his statue, David:
 
“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”