As the years pass us by, we spend more time wondering how our work must appear, rather than what it must be. The image of our contribution seems to matter more than what we are actually doing. The quality of work we do can often change with the number of people watching. The hope to receive a round of applause before the eyes of an audience is a constant pressure. Unfortunately these expectations can and often do lead us to the wrong path.
Maturity is like the cloak that burdens you down after a certain age, giving you the societal permission to look down upon younger humans, in order to appreciate your task of lugging the coat around. And for some reason the coat brings along with it the need to ask everyone to lift it for you. Everyone must fan you when you sweat, and help you lift your coat when life gets too tough, however the question is – why carry it anyway?
It brings along with it a great need to impress, and tailor our behaviour to culturally acceptable atticates. It surrounds us with a false hope to pump our pride, and want everyone to appreciate us, just as we falsely appreciate ourselves under the pretext of maturity. But no matter what we have achieved, there will always be some people, who don’t care. I am not referring to critics, since critics do care enough to analyse, find faults, highlight them, and often flash them across prime time television.
However, people indifferent to your success are the ones that will remind you that your cloak / idea of maturity, is entirely built in your head and in the minds of those who follow your work. It may and often will never hold value for every single person you meet.
Let me narrate an anecdote from Alexander the Great’s life. He once met Diogenes, a Greek Stoic philosopher.
Once Diogenes was lying down and enjoying the summer air, as the sun rays fell upon him. Alexander the Great stood over him, and asked what he, the most powerful man in the world could do for this exceedingly poor man. Diogenes literally could have asked for anything, but he simply said, “Stop blocking my sun”. One can imagine how this request must have hurt Alexander’s large ego, who came parading with the pride of being able to fulfil any request.
The moral of the story is, stop taking yourself so seriously. You are nobody in somebody’s eyes, and that is okay. The value that you have gained with an imposed sense of maturity, might get you some gain, but will bring along with it far more illusion than we realise. We are just humans, all with the same red blood, working to pay off bills, some of us enjoy it, and some of us don’t. There are enough pains that revolve around an average persons’ life and the weight of the idea of maturity weighing us down is not required. ‘You are grown up now!’ must never be the sole reason to do anything. Age often can, but is not reason of wisdom walking into someone’s life. Being who we truly are, is different from being who we are on the steroids of pretence and a tailored sense of maturity. Understanding this lesson from Diogenes does not make our achievements worthless.
Einstein understood that thus said, “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”
Our achievements may never be worthless. They will always matter, at least to some people who believe in us. But does not qualify an ‘invincible’ behaviour. It does not warrant our need to customise our existence as per acceptable mature standards. We must allow ourselves to be. We must allow ourselves to grow freely, and then tailor for ourselves, rather than grow with the aim to fit into something tailored for us.