At 36 years of age I am considered to be relatively young…at least by all those belonging to higher age groups than mine. Being in your mid-thirties is a curious thing. It’s like being in a passage way, a midway stage that does not belong anywhere in particular.
You haven’t yet reached that maturation peak in your life and yet you are irreversibly not young anymore, only perhaps youngish depending on perspective. In any case I feel I have somehow switched lanes from one ‘life-stream’ to another.
Let’s be clear, we feel change throughout life all the time as we go through different stages of development and experiences. Yet there are milestones in life in which the change is more meaningful and in a way you are more mindful and conscious of that change.
I used to think that maturity is very relative in the sense that some people can be more mature than others even though they are younger, hence pointing at the fact that age is only a correlated but not necessary cause for maturity. life experiences and character dispositions are the real factors.
I have come to suspect that this is not entirely true. In a way I started believing that even though maturity is more or less relative, there are certain points in life in which your consciousness changes and this happens by time. Hence time is still an important factor.What I am trying to say is that maturity and change in consciousness are influenced mostly by experiential time but also influenced by our biological time. The former is relative the second is more or less standard with little variations.
I feel going through a point in life where I am more conscious of meaningful changes in life. This is driven by my experiential time but determined by my biological time. looking back I have come to identify 5 major changes that characterize my maturity.
Appreciation and gratefulness
Life teaches us time and time again to take things less for granted. Taking things for granted means, amongst other things, that we haven’t come to appreciate the impermanence of life and things around us. It means that our worldview is very static and inflexible and it is not refreshed very often – meaning that it is not very well equiped for life’s fluctuations.
The more the idea of impermanence sinks in my reality the more I appreciate and am grateful to anything happening around me. It could be just the early morning lights or a short family gathering. It started feeling as if there is no guarantee that any experience is repeatable and in many ways this is true.
Hence moments are more precious now. Sometimes it feels a little bit like that cancer patient living on borrowed time. Every morning is a lottery win.
Seeing my reflection in others
I very often used to see the negative side of others – hypocrisy, bigotry, ignorance,etc. Not just individually but also collectively such as the cultural trait in certain people. sometimes I couldn’t get past it and see beyond it and I have to admit I still struggle with it sometimes. I have realized that this was very often the cause of bitterness and anger.
Not so long time ago I came across a quote of Carl Jung (incidentally one of my greatest influences) that said “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding about ourselves” and that struck me hard and fast. I immediately realized what it meant. What was bothering me in others was not as such their behaviour or character trait but the reflection of that trait still lingering somewhere in me!
Listen more, debate less
I used to strongly debate and argue my opinions in discussions where that opinion was either challenged or criticized. Of course this is not a bad thing in itself unless it does not get out of hand and I still love a good debate once in a while. But hotly argued debates can make you lose sight of the reason why you have an opinion in the first place…that you are an inquisitive mind interacting with a world of knowledge, learning, sharing, forming opinions and even changing them as you learn more.
It serves no purpose to fortress your opinions and belch fire when others present contrary opinions. It serves a lot to listen to the others’ arguments, reason & evaluate things out, filter noise and accept other’s complimentary perspectives and ideas because as I mentioned it will reinforce the purpose of why you have an opinionated mind.
Acceptance is not a privilege of holy men. We all have the capacity to accept things for what they are. To accept things as they are does not mean that you settle for a status quo in life and never let change happen. On the contrary, accepting means having a grounded heart in the midst of change and impermanence. It means taking a smooth ride on the wave of natural changes in life without anxiety, remorse, attachment, negative reactions and denial.
To accept is to open the door to life, the universe and everything 🙂
Focusing more on actions rather than outcomes
When I look back I realize that I used to have my actions immobilized because I used to lock my mind on the outcome rather than on the actions or steps I am taking now to reach that outcome. This used to make me frustrated and give up easily because whenever one of the steps didn’t turn out as expected I used to see the end objective dissolving further out in time instead of just focusing on that action and trying it out again until I succeed.
This is a cornerstone of successful action.
The balance between heart and mind
As we grow our souls journey through a long and winding road sometimes going through labyrinths and roller coaster rides. Youth for instance is characterized by stormy and restless passages where the mind and heart are in constant conflict and antagonism.
I see wisdom as being the synchronization of the heart with our intellect. It is the passage in life in which there is the quieting of the storm, where the waves of interference between mind and heart flat out in a sea of calm and transparency.