January 31, 2007

Silly Putty

That fleeting moment when a motivational poster actually... motivates

Taped to the wall at the foot of my bed is a banner, with the following words written on it in a blue permanent marker:

"Today is the first day of the rest of your life"

No, not an original. I got the line from the movie [[American Beauty]]. Never mind that, though... it's the position of the banner which is interesting. The banner is the first thing I see when I get up in the morning, and the last thing I meditate upon before I fall asleep.

And every time, every time I read those words, I make a solemn promise to become a better person, the best person I could possibly become: — self confident; — self-reliant; — charming and suave; — calm, cool and composed; — completely at ease, even in embarrassing situations. A sort of super-me, if you will. The costumed hero version of me, who the world looks up to. The supernatural mythical human, of whom I, my current self, am the mild-mannered, awkward secret identity.

At least, in theory, that is the case!

On the good days, the "solemn promise" is forgotten by lunch-time, and on the bad days, I feel like setting the banner on fire!

You know, I believe that we are like fresh putty when we are young. The stuff that kids play with, making snowmen and houses. Modeling clay. The kind which leaves your fingers smelling of turpentine when you are done with it.

But as we grow older, the putty gets old too. It gets harder, less malleable. And it retains that shape of the garden gnome that we last molded it into. Grouchy and inconspicuous. And we are stuck with that. We could, of course, add a splash of turpentine to the putty and reshape it into something else...

I have been searching too long for my own splash of turpentine to reshape myself into a better person.