I believe it to be true that the older we get the more wise and mature most of us become. It is a true blessing to outgrow the angst of youth and to become more and more the distillation of the person you have been meant to become. Rough edges are ground smooth, old behavioral patterns are identified and gradually shed, and the ability to turn away from the lure of the food which feeds the egoic self is enhanced. There is a counterpoint to all of this, however, and that is that there is also a calcification which takes place over time, which has the effect of further cementing our beliefs, chaining us to that to which we have grown accustomed, and making continuing transformational change more and more difficult.
Children seem to be eminently flexible, changing best friends from one week to the next, moving from one activity or interest to the next without much of a hitch. As we get older, we discover what we like and what we don’t and adjust our lives to best reflect what I would call our own personalness. In a way, we become much more simple, where our external life better reflects the truth of our inner being.
But the calcification bit is the more interesting part here, and also the more puzzling. It seems as if just about every person I know who is getting older becomes in some way a caricature of themselves. Their reactions become predictable, their beliefs certain, their behaviors inevitable. This is all very interesting to me because I am beginning to see this in myself. Deep change seems to remain possible, but the effort required appears more Herculean. My beliefs have become strong, my judgments acute, and my attachments to the familiar velcrotic (I’m not so calcified though that I can’t make up my own words now and again!). It is as if a personally circumscribed comfort zone develops over time which envelopes us, encompassing all with which we have become familiar, including our thought patterns, habits and beliefs. Breaking out of this encasement is no easy task. It takes a dedication to and love of the truth, and a desire to be truly free, free to choose at every moment in time despite how our previous experiences have informed and solidified us. Sometimes it takes a concerted effort simply to recognize the person whom we would like to become. That recognition is a critical first step which has the effect of opening up the pathways for changes to occur. Without self-awareness and a strong desire to not be held to a limited perspective, important changes rarely if ever occur.
I wish I had a nice prescription for eliminating this calcification. About the most I can recommend is to pay attention and seek to identify the ways in which we are calcified, and to push ourselves to break it up a little, by moving more toward the discomfort and away from the familiar. Question your beliefs, practice changing your behaviors, and ask others for honest reflection.