Tuesday, August 2, 2011
What does age mean?
Age denotes the time a person has been alive. However, people develop and learn at different rates, so it is a poor indicator of where an individual is in the journey of discovery that is life.
Children place great importance on their age, and each year makes a big difference in their life. As adults, we generally stop thinking so much about the differences between one year and the next, except for parents watching their children grow up.
When we are young, we spend our time busily observing and learning how things work, how people communicate and interact, and what things mean. As we mature, we have a framework of the knowledge we have acquired, and we can place into this framework any new thing we learn or experience. We have context for many of the new things we encounter, and can compare them with similar things from our past knowledge.
For some, growing older means a loss of the excitement and pleasure of youth. Nothing is new any more, and familiarity breeds contempt. This seems to me unfortunate, since novelty in itself is not the most important aspect of any experience. Those who can no longer enjoy a sunset because they have seen thousands are losing some of the joy of life.
In general, older and more mature people tend to be more responsible and balanced, and less extreme, than the young. This is partly because over time they have seen things from different angles, learned to see in shades of grey and not just in black and white, and have had time to discover that the world and human situations are complicated.
I see my life so far as a process of growth and development. I have worked hard to overcome some of the problems I experienced when younger, and I am much happier than I used to be.
I am now in the best years of my life. I have reached a level of maturity and stability that I find comfortable, but I still see myself as young, in that I am constantly learning, open-minded, and creative. I hope this state lasts for the rest of my life.