I may have been a bit harsh and short sighted in my last entry. Not that I disagree with the concepts that I put down about growing up; yet I feel as if I have missed much to the concept of true growing up. Thus I have set down to write a follow up to my previous entry.
Mainly I want to touch on the concepts within growing up that I feel many of us lose sight of, or have a hard time contending with and therefore ignore when they are happening to us on a whole. One of these is the changing of values and ideals. Others include the ability to admit ones short comings, mistakes, and the breakdown of pride within one’s ego to yield to the Self.
Let’s start with the foremost ideal that I have come to understand in the idea of growing up, as I have experienced, being the changing of ideals and values. Not core values mind you, rather the way we view our values and express them to the outside world as a whole.
Most often, we have a decided set of core ideals and values; things that go deeper than just the expression of ideals. For example one of my core believes has always been the act of Ahimsa, or non-harm. This ideal did not start to come to me as a thought of Ahimsa, but rather as a child understanding that when I pulled my dog’s tail she was in pain (granted I was very young and this is an imaginary scenario).
As I grew older and this idea began to take shape and be given a name it grew in both complexity and simplicity. The overall goal is to do no harm; but then in this whom are we doing the least amount of harm? When a situation is harmful to another person and by walking away from it or pointing it out, it will cause less harm but still harm; is that okay? Eventually the idea of causing no harm grew into a beautiful ideal that promoted a lifestyle and a dietary change. I became a vegetarian and adapted a complex understanding of human nature in order to produce the best results with the least amount of harm through my actions.
However this is a simpler example. Let us take something more complex, which would produce more of a crisis of mind and ego when confronted; something that would cause an individual to choose between growth and stagnation.
Many of us as youths are radical, idealists. Our only thoughts are consumed within an ideal and molding our lives to fit into this ideal. As we grow older, for various reasons, it would appear to an outsider that our ideals are lost on us, as we give way for allowances into our lives that do not fit the ideal. However when examined properly, by both the observing party and the party participating in the action, it is clear that these allowances are not in fact changing our ideals and values; but rather they become expressed in a different way and we fit better into the world around us.
Change cannot be a forced, nor quick action. In asana we learn that when we push a pose until we hurt we end up doing more damage to our bodies and retracting any flexibility that we once had. The same is true outside of asana in our lives, and our societies. We learn to find our edge, and to slowly expand it; one must plant seeds before anything can grow. With this logic, often times it is the mature growth of an individual-whom molds their expression of their values-that make a greater impact on society, rather than the ridged one who loses themselves to the obsession of structure.
The second lesson that I have observed these few weeks about growing up is the admittance to our own selves of things we view as ‘undesirable’. In studying the Tao, I came across a wonderful saying, “only a fool does not know his limits”.
In our Western culture we are led to believe that it is better to push past the limit, then to rest at its edge. Often when we push past a limit we fall over the cliff and are further away from the goal than when we started. Bringing everything back, this again is the ideas of asana practice and how pushing too far will snap you further away than where you started.
We are all perfect individual expressions of the same universe; and as individuals need to learn our own lessons. If one can walk out to the edge of their limits and become confortable there, they can then comfortably move further beyond them then they ever thought possible.
In growth we learn to accept and understand the short comings within us, we also learn to appreciate these things and work with them rather than against them for a more beautiful world. We are able to admit when we make a mistake because we recognize them and are willing to learn from them in order to not make the same mistake tomorrow, and walk into the world more prepared.
In admitting mistakes we have to swallow a large amount of pride. This lesson is something that hard for many and mastered by few on large scales. Youth promotes a pride within a pride you possess. Pride comes in many forms and on many levels. The more risks one takes the greater the chance that one will have to, at one point, swallow their own pride and admit they were wrong.
On a smaller scale, say breaking someone’s lamp at a party, it is easier to learn. We learn by social cues, when we admit such things we are praised, when we lie about them we are shunned. On larger scales the idea becomes much more complex and the rewards are on a more long term scale. Say for example a marriage falls apart. It takes a great loss of pride on the sides of both parties to admit weather or not it was something that was doomed from the start; and if it was pride, or expectation, that led them to that jump in the first place. Breaking up the marriage may also often times lead to the undesirable social cues, such as ostracism.
These lessons are hard pressed to be learned by many, for our culture promotes the ideas of living to expectations and ruses. The thing about expectations and living to them is that one is never really living at all. One dose not chose and has to learn by mistakes; but rather glides through life doing as they are told; allowing them always to have an excuse and to never consider what their heart truly wants.
Growing up means many things outside of what we are told within our culture. It is making one’s own decisions based on heart, the ability to make that decision knowing their own short comings and limits, and the ability to admit if the decision was a mistake, to learn from it, swallow their own pride and move on. Rest on the edge my friends, do not fall off, and do not fail to make the journey.
“Out on the edge, you can see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center” – Kurt Vonnegut