Growing Old Is Mandatory, Growing Up Is Optional

“I was wise enough to never grow up while fooling most people into believing I had.” – Margaret Mead

Margaret has such an eloquent and beautiful way of capturing my belief that growing up is far overrated. In growing up, there seems to me to be much more lost than there is gained, especially considering the things that make life magical, special, and amazing.

As I grew up, my sense of wonder diminished considerably. I recall losing the ability to look at things through innocent eyes, and starting to judge things that I had never felt a need to judge before. I stopped being excited by the little things–which diminished my ability to see the world in positive ways. It was not as easy for me to find happiness anymore–to feel my spirits rise and my heart soar. I began to expect more out of others than I had before, which only helped to complicate my relationships. I had to learn how to work and get a job. I had to say good-bye to simplicity and innocence if I wanted to “make it” in the world on adult terms.

What I admire most about Margaret’s words, is that through them she is able and willing to admit to something that most adults would never even think of, and many would consider an insult if the statement were directed at them: that she is still like a child in many ways. So am I, finally–for my child-like moments are by far my most enjoyable and fulfilling. And my children seem to love me for being able to let that part of myself out.

Pablo Picasso said something to the effect that it takes many years to become a child once more. After years of being lost, I am so grateful for the child-like qualities I have found within myself again.

Questions to consider:

Why do we start to think that being like a child is a negative thing, and that growing up is such a positive thing?

How might we go about reclaiming some of the child-like qualities that we have left behind?

Who said that being fully grown up is such a great thing. Were they right?

For further thought:

“Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.”


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Filed under Commentary, Food For Thought, Living, Opinion

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