Americans are obsessed with trends, and though that may be true for folks living in other countries as well, the fact is I don’t live there so I can’t really say for sure if they are infected with the same fascination, and besides I am quite sure “we got it bad”. Sometimes the “next big thing” is a pop culture persona who through constant media attention becomes someone who we all know about, whether we want to or not. Occasionally, it can be an idea, an expression or a glib catch-phrase posing as an idea. And often it is a material object – a new electronic gadget or “must-have” fashion accessory.
The funny thing is, while many of these things are touted as new or revolutionary they very often are just a merchandised manipulation – promising to be special and unique but really not so extraordinary at all. When you’re the first kid on the block to get a new bike, with a hot paint job, super funky handle-bars and a new-fangled seat – you feel pretty darned cool. But after a few months, several of your friends have one too, and when you see your mom come home with a new, adult-sized version, you know your day in the sun has truly passed. Trends, by popular definition are time-limited, some short and some long, but none truly timeless.
I think that sometimes personal improvement is also vulnerable to the same fate. Encounter Groups, fad diets, personal fitness regimens and other ideas for enhancing and improving our lives come and go – which is not to say that they aren’t worth trying. When yoga first gained popularity in this country as a form of physical, spiritual and mental exercise a lot of folks “jumped on the bandwagon”, and though many fell off over time, for a great number of people, regular yoga practice is a constant part of their daily existence. We can’t always know today what we will still want to have as a part of our lives tomorrow, or next month, or ten years from now – and there is no harm (well mostly) in trying new things – but before you buy that new exercise machine or enroll in the next self-improvement class – it may be useful to understand whether the choice you are making is right for you. Know thyself, be thyself, because YOU will never go out of fashion – now go out there and expand your horizons and try something new.