As I pulled my new blue shirt from the dryer after washing it for the first time, I reached over to clean the lint filter. Not surprisingly, it was littered with bright blue fibers. Though I have pulled these loosely woven blankets of lint from the filter many times before, today this mundane activity caused me to stop dead in my tracks.
After peeling the lint from the filter, I let it sit in the palm of my hand for what felt like an eternity. Staring at those bright blue fibers, I couldn't help but think of what my new shirt had just gone through. After being soaked in detergent, violently spun during the spin cycle, then tumbled dry in high heat, it was clear that what I was holding in my hand was part of the shirt itself. While the shirt did not look any different it was clear that, through this one experience, it had lost something. I knew this to be true because I was holding it in my hand.
In my hand I held more than blue lint. It was a vivid illustration of how people lose their passion and intensity for life. I stood there befuddled as I realized that it is not only our garments that fade through the years, but how our view of our world grows less bright as we are soaked, spun, and tumbled dry through the years.
Our spirits, personalities, and attitudes, much like our garments, are made up of tightly woven threads. These threads are composed of fibers and, as these threads are stretched, pulled, and scuffed, certain fibers come loose and end up in the lint filter. However, this is where the similarities end. Unlike your garments, which continuously lose the very fibers they are made of, you have a choice when it comes to what you hold on to and what you let get blown into the lint filter of your life.
Each and every time you are presented with one of life's challenges, you are being presented with a choice of how you are going to allow the situation to change your very composition. You make your choice as you choose where you are putting your attention. If you choose to see only the hardship and the difficulty of the situation, you are clinging to these undesirables.
As you cling to these undesirables, you have made the unwitting choice to let a little piece of you get blown away. While any one of these choices to cling to life's undesirables has little effect on you as a person, over time, your spirit will fade in much the same fashion as a bright blue shirt loses its vibrancy. Your passion and intensity for life will slowly turn into cynicism and resentment towards those with success.
The fact is we're all going to be tossed around, put through spin cycles, and tumbled on high heat. That is why people change throughout their lives. Much like an oft-laundered shirt's composition changes, they change based upon the choices they make. And, make no mistake, it is a choice. For example, many people have difficult childhoods. Some choose to use them as springboards to success, while others use them as an excuse for all that ails them. But, unlike our textiles, we have the ability to regenerate all that was lost. By learning from those who are steeped in passion and intensity we can return ourselves to a state that causes us to see things differently. Much like a breath of crisp artic air taken deeply into the lungs, we have the ability to see the sky a little bit bluer, feel our step grow a little bit lighter, and bear witness to all that is wonderful inside each and every day. Do so by choice. Do so with purpose. Do so because it is simply a better way to live.