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Growth is often the parent or the child of pain.

Maturity is when your world opens up and you realize that you are not the center of it. We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations. Don’t you understand that we need to be childish in order to understand? Only a child sees things with perfect clarity, because it hasn’t developed all those filters which prevent us from seeing things that we don’t expect to see. Man’s growth is held back by his surrender to other people’s expectation that he remain the person he was when they met him. Most adults are adults all over except between their ears. Don’t allow others to direct your ethical resolutions, rather navigate with your own moral compass so you can see the beacon of your own conscious.

Critics who treat ‘adult’ as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up. Maturity is the ability to live fully and equally in multiple contexts; most especially, the ability, despite our grief and losses, to courageously inhabit the past the present and the future all at once. You stop being a child when you realize the world isn’t here to cater to your wants and needs.

Cynicism is the dark side of maturity. As you travel the journey of life, you just wish it was easy to appreciate relationships before it ends rather than worrying about when they will. We often betray our arrogance or immaturity by asserting that we will never do something bad that we are capable of doing. It’s never what stands around us. Rather, it’s always what resides within us. People’s sense of self worth is pivotal to their ability to look clearly at the hurt they’ve caused. The more solid one’s sense of self regard, the more likely that that person can feel empathy and compassion for the hurt party, and apologize from an authentic center. It takes immaturity to be hurt by the fact that someone does not trust you. The mature person searches for solutions to the problems that the immature person just complains about. Arrogance is full with perception of perfection, while maturity always has room for understanding and improvement.

Don’t you understand that we need to be childish in order to understand? Only a child sees things with perfect clarity, because it hasn’t developed all those filters which prevent us from seeing things that we don’t expect to see. I have lived a great deal among grown-ups. I have seen them intimately, close at hand. And that hasn’t much improved my opinion of them. The great measure of human maturation is the increasing understanding that we move through life in the blink of an eye; that we are not long with the privilege of having eyes to see, ears to hear, a voice with which to speak and arms to put round a loved one; that we are simply passing through. The pursuit of happiness is one of the most common symptoms of intellectual immaturity. We do not mature with age. We mature with the setbacks that we face in life. If by growing up you mean allowing the adult within me to abandon the child within me, I have no interest in such a horrid proposition. If instead you mean to let each enhance the other at the exclusion of neither, I have every interest.

If you erased your past mistakes, you could purge your regrets with them, but you’d also wipe any lessons learned and any subsequent maturity gained. Don’t regret the minefields you stepped into, just try and learn not to step into the same one twice. Finding yourself takes concentrating the Mind and freeing the Soul. Finding what is takes freeing the Mind and concentrating the Soul. Growing up is a hard business, and it is a heart business. The true indicator that I love myself is that I choose to love others above myself. If I rise above what people do to me and consistently strive to be the ‘bigger man’ despite the cost to me, I will never become what I dislike in others.

Trials don’t come to take what you have, they come to supply you with what you lack.


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