I’m in the process of writing another book, A Ronin’s Journey; The Road To Redemption. It’s different from my first two, Howls From The Wolfpack and Growls of a Wolf, where they were opinions on different subjects. This one is about dealing with trauma and grief over a 17 month period.
The writing is done, now I’m focusing on the slow process of typing it up. As I type, I am amazed at where I was compared to now. Part of Chapter 11 resonated with me.
“When everything calmed down again, I revisited the idea of building a person I could respect and live it. It’s not about self-esteem insomuch as being someone I could respect.
The first time I tried the idea I was working with what I have. The overall idea wasn’t a bad one, it was just moving from the wrong direction. Before it was seeing what I had, and what it would look like pieced together.
This time I went for top-down planning. Everything would have to fit under the easily remembered personal motto and mission statement. This time there would be some other additions.
First, I needed a way to deal with the those around me and myself. The last time I tried to be an island unto myself. Then I needed to develop interpersonal skills to help address that even more. I didn’t have the best social skills or ways to deal with hostile people that well. I have to actively work on my social skills.
The reason I was doing this was because life had humbled me the past summer. The fire had burned away the mask I had worn to hide my weakness. My outlook had changed, it felt like my soul itself had changed. I had to revisit it all at a deeper, more detailed level. The differences were amazing.”
Working with what I had, from the bottom up, for an ideal didn’t work. The foundation was shaky.
Top-down, it was better, but as I would find later that year, also imperfect. The transformation had to be from the inside-out, not outside-in in the above sense.
What Does This Even Mean?
In How (Not) To Be Secular; Reading Charles Taylor, Taylor talks of how people ‘imagine’ their social surroundings as carried by stories, images, legends, and so on. He sums it up in two words: social imaginary.
It does correspond with what I’d seen. Both times I was working with my interpretation of the world, realizing my humanity in a form of expressive individualism. Looking around, especially online, I definitely see it in others too.
How Did It Work Out?
I was trying to buffer myself, insulated in my interior mind, invulnerable to anything outside the natural. Not even meaning. I became the center of meaning, isolated from everything, focused on my own growth.
The world will let you know that it doesn’t revolve around you. The first attempt at this was an ideal that exacerbated my narcissism; the second try was my attempt to change and be good. C.S Lewis put it well when he said, ‘no one knows how bad he is until he sincerely tries to be good.’
Working with bad material still leads to lousy results, even if you try better material the second time around (Matthew 7:24-26). I needed new material to be transformed, this time from the inside-out (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
When I turned to God, following Jesus wholeheartedly, He transformed me into something beyond my own capabilities. He can transform you too.