Though we may have family we’re close to and best friends we haven’t been separated from in years or a community we’ve felt accepted by and loved for as long as we’ve been a part of it, we may come to a time where there is a juncture in our roads, a parting of the ways, between us that may be necessary, or even desirable, even though we may not see it that way as the divergence takes place. Because, again we may not like to think so, change is constant even the most stable-appearing environments. We wouldn’t want it any other way really, we wouldn’t want the places we live and work to become stultifying and stagnant or to become lost in a backwater of mind and thought as well as environment; to allow such apathy to descend is no service to oneself, but rather a ticket to lack of control of your own life and ultimately no control or authority of your own thoughts. To avoid such pitfalls or to explore or to choose to grow striking off in a direction you are completely comfortable with but are interested in or drawn to can be a fine adventure and lead to treasures of many kinds. Though sometimes frightening, wouldn’t you rather explore than physically or mentally expire?
We are more aware of growth when we are younger, more seems to be happening in our bodies, perceptions, and minds. It is then we can see tangible changes and hear how our opinions evolve and feel our struggle to expand our knowledge. When the breakneck pace of early growth slows we can begin to pay attention to other things around us and become more attuned to the bigger picture of our lives. We discover we have responsibilities involving others than ourselves, and the responsibility to live well on the planet. Once we’ve made this discovery we become aware of more; we realize that there are other age groups, there is family we may want to connect with firmly. We find that responsiblity is not always light and easy to bear but that sometimes the weight of the past is a burden on our shoulders and that the fresh growth of the new is strangling. We must, once again, grow and realize that the choices we’ve made and the responsibilities we’ve taken on will not just fly away on their own, but that we must live up to those responsibilities and stay the course so that we may keep growing. We must have grown enough to discover that the growth process never stops and we have new opportunities every day to build on the ground we’ve already covered and the progress we’ve already achieved. Isn’t continued growth, responsibilities included, a better goal than stagnation?
The human body cannot keep up a high level of any kind of activity without some kind of rest or relaxation. And the human brain has the same need, a break in activity and rest. Rest and revitalizing oneself are especially necessary when growing or recovering from illness or other major stressors. For immediate relief one can stop, step back, and take a deep breath; this will work for both our body and our brain for a moment. For a more comprehensive feeling of relief, rest and relaxation are necessary; sleep is appropriate if both mind and body have been stressed for some time, as will massage or meditation. But the body may need a physical activity if the brain has been strongly focused for hours and the brain may need some mental activity if the body has been given an intense workout. Though rest times are most needed during growth times, this is the time the rest will mostly likely be pushed off to the side; this is true not only of humans but of all living things, one can often see a plant growing inches a day and when it has reached a certain height, it will sag just a bit, until it’s watered or the sun feeds it. We humans could take a lesson from plants and animals – instead of pushing on regardless, we might take a moment from working too hard and playing too hard and come up for a breath of air before we collapse and have even more stress introduced into our lives. A moment of rest beats the possible consequences, right?
Aging occurs throughout one’s life, indeed it occurs all day, every day. One tends to think of aging as something that only happens in one’s life from middle age to older age, then even older aged. Yet we do most of our aging the most quickly when we are quite young and very young. The growth of the body and of the brain is most rapid when we are babies and toddlers while, generally, the least change happens when we are older. We must know this subliminally since birthdays are celebrated the most elaborately when we are younger and birthdays tend to be forgotten, except the decade years, when we are older. The visible effects of aging on the body include changes in size and function on both ends of the spectrum and the visible changes from aging in the facial features present similarly. However, aging in the more elderly is treated with veneration and there is hardly any or no appreciation for aging in younger or growing people. Granted, in many cultures the major milestones of growth and celebrations for youth merging into adulthood are elaborate and community wide; these rites of passage do not hold the homage to or defer to the emerging adults in the way that many of the elderly are considered wise, with an unearthly spiritual superiority. Even in Western cultures, where older people are often ignored and shoved to the side, there remain fairy tales and old stories recognizing the wisdom and wealth of knowledge older people possess . Also, in Western culture, growing children are often ignored and shoved to the side, left to themselves or to caretakers to raise. It seems that aging is something of a bad word and negative concept in the West. The idea of change in general is anathema; there is, rather, a need to conform to a model of unchanging and inhuman physical and mental characteristics that has led to a very peculiar sense of how to treat members of our own society. I would think that transitions at all times for all ages should be acknowledged and celebrated, wouldn’t you?
The images of very young humans, animals, and even plants provide a powerful impetus in us to interact with them. The presence of the nascent ones in person affects us even more strongly. What causes the positive reactions and the urges to protect and care for them does not come only from our desire to help these babies on the beginning of life’s rough road. It is intensely personal for us too, for the sense of our own growth and renewal. What we feel, so deeply we may not even know it, is hope. Hope for the youngsters we’re observing and holding, hope for ourselves and our goals, and hope for our planet and all its occupants. Why we feel this hope isn’t as important as knowing the hope is there, alive and well within us. With living hope we can feel good about our accomplishments and be well and truly able to look after and guide the babies newly arrived and growing with us. We can strive to affect a positive path for our future and that of others without giving in to despair. There are few things more energizing that to see a new life or lives and wish to create or save something positive and good for them and at the same time enrich ourselves. With hope there is always a choice and a chance for betterment. A new year is another kind of baby and when we experience the start of a new year we know we can influence our own lives and those of others for the greater good. Even though the break in the calendar’s days is artificial, it is a very real chance to revive hope’s influence in our lives. May you have a healthy and prosperous new year. Why not?