Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Back in the day, changes in behavior were credited to the "stages" children were passing through. Not much attention was paid to them, and, like growing pains, most folks agreed they'd pass with time and fresh air. Stages, save for adolescence, had no names, and even that fell into a broader catch-all that identified those in that category as "teens." It was a simpler time, and parents whose experience was mirrored in the behavior of their children, weren't worried and rarely stressed about the state of their children's psyche or personality development. It was a laissez-faire approach to child rearing, designed to raise obedient and God-fearing children. That changed as education, economic opportunity and technical innovation convinced those on the brink of adulthood they could do better and be better than their parents. We became more introspective and asked more of ourselves and others.
Introspection can lead to change, but how adults alter their behavior varies. Several weeks ago, a friend alerted me to an article written by a practitioner of Chinese medicine. The article compared the creative cycle of nature to our own and equated the decay and drop of autumn to the release of negativity within ourselves. To wit, letting go of waste makes us more receptive to what is pure and precious in our lives. At the very least, it causes us to examine who we are and correct the imbalance in our lives.
I love the imagery of leaves falling on a barren landscape, but I must be honest here. I am easily bored, even with myself, and every five years or so, I feel the need to re-create myself. That re-creation is never violent, but I have been known to do some severe pruning. Falling leaves don't quite describe the process I use to make a new me. Some years my processes is like that of a butterfly, but in really bad years it's more like that of a snake.
I'm most comfortable with the gradual change of the caterpillar as it becomes a butterfly. Those who know me well can sense when that change is coming, but because it's gradual they smile, stand back and give me room to do my thing. There have, however, been times when I emulate a snake and shed my skin with a speed that stuns those around me. A part of me envies those who are content with who and what they are. For better or worse, those snake skins keep getting in my way. There is so much to see and do, and I have done and seen so much, that the 30 year old me would never recognize the shapeshifter who moves through murky waters like old shark. The vision may be cloudy but there's always something new ahead. Forward motion and embracing change is the key to a happy old age.