How do we change the habits of a lifetime?
Can a tin man, heart newly returned and full of fear, head packed with sawdust and clockwork gears, truly change? Or is it a return? A return to what he once was before the path he followed became overgrown and unclear, before the world changed him to fit its own means.
I am that tin man. My emotions have been squashed over years and my heart lost along the way, but I remained efficient and purposeful nontheless. For many years this was how life was and I didn’t know it wasn’t how life should be, it seemed right, but there was always something not there like a gap in a familiar skyline where a tower once stood.
It was only when, at one of my lowest points, a new sun appeared and what was missing came clear, the sun illuminating through years of darkness. The view was dazzling, terrifying, but as my eyes adjusted and heartbeat returned to my empty chest, its true beauty came clearly into view. I knew what needed to be done, and had no hesitation in taking those first life changing steps.
However, left unchallenged, the world around us will seep in to bend and shape us, glacially slow, until we are not quite who we once were. You still look like you, act like you, retain the same thoughts and dreams that you always have but you are not the same person you knew. You are the you that has fitted into the place you have remained in. The world rarely changes for us, we must change to fit the world, our new shape decreed by its whim like a tree forced to grow between rocks.
Changing shape means gaining or losing yet without choice and knowledge. These changes lie beyond our control and move us away from the self image inside, no matter how dear we hold it. What is gained or lost is not our decision and we may fight it at the start, but like frogs boiled slowly in water, the change comes unseen until it’s too late. Over time, the changes may appear to match our self image but it’s just circus mirrors, light adjusted by the eyes to soften the blow. Loss of control is often too hard a truth to accept easily.
But when we find a true mirror, one that ignores the outer shell and reflects back to us the soul inside, our old self and old ideals are reunited with what we’ve become. What we see is like an old photograph of a departed loved one: sorrow at the loss of something so dear, anger at our impotence to have prevented it but hope from the love we feel for the light they once held.
Having seen this reflection we are given two choices and choose we must. Either accept our fate, give up our once held ideals of self and become what the world has built for us; or fight back, screw our hands into fists and reshape the world around us, making room for the you inside.
I chose to fight.
Heart lit by the sun of my true self, fists bleeding and torn, I chose to fight.