A business colleague once told me that rewriting your life story line by line and chapter by chapter is a futile exercise. "If you want a new life," she said, "you have to throw your old life into the fire."
It's not a new idea.
From the legend of the Phoenix to Götterdämmerung to 2001, A Space Odyssey destruction and renewal have been integral to human mythology.
Frustrated by incremental improvements followed by regression, those who seek perfection look to conflagration as the pathway to a better life and a better world. They're probably correct in their thinking.
Evolution takes time, effort and commitment. Destruction provides instant gratification.
On a macro level, we may be living through the final death scene of American freedom and democracy. In 1787 Scottish historian Alexander Tyler observed:
"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government.
A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.
From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.
The average age of the worlds greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years,these nations always progressed through the following sequence:
From bondage to spiritual faith;
From spiritual faith to great courage;
From courage to liberty;
From liberty to abundance;
From abundance to complacency;
From complacency to apathy;
From apathy to dependence;
From dependence back into bondage."
Can anyone doubt that we Americans have learned how to vote ourselves goodies from the public treasury? More alarmingly, the evidence is clear that we are now in the apathy/dependence phase of the American death spiral.
On the personal level, the Émile Coué de Châtaigneraie mantra gives millions of adherents daily inspiration and a faint glimmer of hope that tomorrow may be better than yesterday.
In reality, when looking back at the illusion of getting better and better, few can claim that daily incremental improvements have resulted in dramatic lifetime transformations.
For most, every day and in every way we descend more deeply into conformity, boredom and despair.
Bejeebers, this is depressing, pessimistic even nihilist. No it isn't.
Every crossroad provides the pathway to a better more rewarding life.
As a nation, throwing our old ideas about governance and civic responsibility into the fire may lead to a better society if we choose the right path.
For me, eliminating negative influences, tearing off self-imposed shackles and pursuing a new life story--in effect, throwing my past life into the fire--can and will lead to a happier, more productive and far more rewarding life.
Today, I've resolved to begin the next phase of my of life with a renewed sense of enthusiasm and creative energy.
I'm also very confident that generations to come will create a better world out of the ashes of our collective selfishness and profligacy and that I will see that better world in my lifetime.