Contemplating my advanced age, I was thinking that maybe it’s about time I should have a mid-life crisis. My thoughts carried me back to pre-historic times. During the Stone Age, and into the Ages that followed, the average life expectancy was about 30 years. Does that mean that men around that time, experienced a mid-life crisis around the age of 15? Maybe teenagers behave today the way they do, because they still carry in their genes their forefathers pre-historic menopausic effects?…
For many years, long before artificial light was introduced, let alone Radio, TV and Facebook, our ancestors went to bed shortly after the sun settled down, that is, on average, around 6pm, and woke up with sunrise, around 6am. It is therefore not that surprising that 12am was named mid-night; the middle point between going to bed and waking up. Nowadays, most of us do not go to bed before 9pm, or, more likely, between working late, watching TV and surfing the web, not before 11pm; but still get up around 6-7am. Midnight should therefore be officially moved to around 2-3am.
Our mid points seem to be continuously shifting; poverty line, ideas about balanced nutrition, left and right politics, these are all constantly on the move. Even the (magnetic) North Pole shifts, let alone our continents and sea level.
The changes are ever so slight that we do not notice; like a child we have not seen in several years and suddenly he is all grown up. We look in wonder and ask, how come you are so tall?
When winter arrives, we look astonished at the thermometer and wonder aloud how come it is so freaking cold outside; at least I do. I like changes, but only when they are for the better… I don’t mind getting old, so long as it brings wisdom. The other stuff that comes with age, that I can do without.
What am I driving at? I can’t really tell you. So instead I will share some of Chuang Tzu’s wisdom, from Section 3, a chapter titled The Secret of Caring for Life: “If you do good, stay away from fame. If you do evil, stay away from punishments [RD: solid advise, no doubt…]. Follow the middle; go by what is constant, and you can stay in one piece, keep yourself alive, look after your parents, and live out your years.” Thus, Chuang Tzu’s middle is to follow the constant.
Given what I wrote above this may seem contradictory, but in reality it is not. The middle, even if it is an ever-shifting point, is the constant, or, as the saying goes (attributed to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus,) the only constant is change.
Learned from: Random thoughts about aging, change and Chuang Tzu.