Writing on Air

Writing on Air by Jim Paredes


Thoughts about maturity (longer article)

Posted on January 21, 2012 by jimparedes

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated January 22, 2012 12:00 AM

Maturity is a fearsome word. People tend to equate it with suffering. They see the word “mature” and think of people who are “responsible,” lacking in spontaneity and carefreeness — and boring. They see killjoys who think in terms of responsibilities, duties, “have-tos,” commitments, promises.

There are singles who find perplexing couples who suffer in relationships but stay in them because it is the mature thing to do to painfully sort out their issues. They don’t have the patience or the commitment, emotionally and psychologically, for such an effort. And they ask, why not just change partners when the thrill is gone, or when it’s time to change?

They see people working hard to send their kids to school, pay for a house, and they are daunted by the hardship and sacrifices involved. Why not just relax and take it easy? Life is too short. They see such people depriving themselves of instant gratification, even if some of them can afford it.

The world as we know it today seems bent on making life more convenient, easy, attractive, and yes, as pain-free as possible. Every new invention is designed to make things more efficient, less uncomfortable, more pleasurable, and more time-saving for people. “New” and ‘latest’ items often mean they are meant to bring less pain. And people are more and more hooked on to these selling points.

The perception that maturity is scary may have real basis since we see so many “mature” people who live lives that involve suffering. But to be mature, or to have the intellectual, emotional, psychological and spiritual gravitas to navigate through life, demands that we look beyond modern enticements and understand more deeply how life really works. And it starts by accepting that the promise of modern life is an incomplete picture.

The whole idea of being mature is developing the ability to understand reality and deal with it. There are bills to be paid. There are emotional and psychological hurdles to overcome in order to love fully. Life, in its glorious and gory splendor, must be dealt with. Painful decisions and consequences must be faced, and this demands not just the capacity to enjoy life but also to accept suffering.

To be mature is to comprehend and accept that there are a lot of things going on in the world aside from one’s whims and preferences that often do not coincide with the way we want to live. We either become stubborn and reject the world as it is or we adapt to it. To be mature is to accept that one must suffer for a time until lessons are learned and the world is understood. It is the taming of the wild, juvenile and immature spirit in us. It is only after a long while and after great effort that the pain becomes more tolerable, and starts to ease.

Undeniably, there are also moments when reality and all its issues may be downright pleasurable, and we don’t even have to exert any effort in making it so. And we thank God for such strokes of good luck or that things are going our way. To a mature person, much of life becomes pleasurable simply because he has prepared and mastered himself to respond correctly to the situations that may arise.

In other words, we can still get your kicks whether we are disciplined and mature or irresponsible and immature. But I think the mature person, in the end, gets more kicks and in greater quality, than the immature one who will always need to search for more but enjoy it less and less. This is because the immature guy becomes a slave to his pleasures, while the mature one is less dependent on them, and less demanding about how life should show up.

When it comes to suffering, the opposite experience may happen. The mature person who has learned that life is bigger than his caprices, whims and drives may face suffering head-on but actually suffer less and still get some meaning out of it, while the hopelessly immature, in facing the same set of circumstances, may suffer more and find everything a total waste of time.

Mastering oneself is a big part of mastering reality, and that means knowing oneself both subjectively and objectively. It is to be intimate with ones’ inner life and yet have the ability to step aside and see oneself in the third person.

When you know yourself, you become less and less the issue when you deal with life. While we can never really and completely get out of ourselves, life becomes less about our untamed egos. It is not so much about us but about other people and the larger life outside of us.

Maturity involves balance and wisdom. Former US First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt put it most eloquently when she said, “A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and all things, and who walks humbly and deals charitably.”

Maturity is not just about doing the ‘right’ thing but knowing when we should do it. It is not just about “correcting” the world of its ills even if we sometimes do. It is more about dealing with oneself and others and trying to find the best way to make things easier for everyone. It is certainly not about being perfect or feeling that one has done well. It is about self-acceptance in the deepest sense. It was the theologian and philosopher Paul Tillich who wrote, “The awareness of the ambiguity of one’s highest achievements (as well as one’s deepest failures) is a definite symptom of maturity.”

Sometimes, I wonder how mature I really am and I shudder at what I see. To be sure, I have matured a lot in many ways since my youth. But there is more to learn. Maturity involves life-long learning. One thing I have learned is this: When I was young and less mature, the world seemed to force me into circumstances. I was happy or sad because of how the world was. It dictated my moods. Now, I feel I have a choice on how to feel about life. It does not matter how the cards are dealt. I will choose to live it as best as I can.

* * *

My first workshop for the year!

If you got a DSLR camera for Christmas, now is the time to learn to use it. Take great pics throughout the year and beyond. Basic Photography is on Jan. 28 from p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at 113 B. Gonzales, Varsity Hills, QC. It’s the street across Miriam College. Fee is P3,920 (includes VAT). Call 0916-8554303 to reserve or write to jpfotojim@gmail.com. See you.

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