Have you ever wondered why do some people mature better than others? Some people become really refined and impressive as they get older, and some people never seem to change for the better.
Recently, I was busy sorting out a storage room of mine. I go through cardboard boxes and decide what to give to others, what to keep, what to throw away. It is both tiring and energizing, I am sure you know what it is like. Suddenly, yesterday, I came across a 20-year-old picture of a person I have now known for such a long time and it was almost shocking to see this picture. I mean, it was obvious it was him, but yet it was like another person. The person looking at me from the picture looked so much…softer. Like someone looking forward to something and enjoying life. What happened? How did this person get the hard, stern look he has now?
It made me think of the old saying that people are like wine: how some get better with age, while others go sour. We had a discussion about how this relates to the thematic and here is the conclusion: It depends on your view of time, if it is concerned with the past or the future, and it is concerned with your intent.
Our intent passes four main stages in our life time:
- I am here to get – the intent of the infant. – This is the starting point, at birth. All that I will still get is still in store for me. As soon as I blink, my parents are there at my service. The people around me work very hard to make sure that all my needs are looked after.
- I give to get – the intent of the child and adolescent. – I have realized that if I do not give (as in behave nicely, smile at people, agree to some stuff…), I will also not get what I want. When I give – still with the intent to get, like an investment.
- I get to give – the intent of the provider. – I work to get money so that I can provide for my family. My purpose at this stage of life is to be there for my children (or others I provide for), to see to that there is food on the table, money for the mortgage and so on. I am busy getting, but with the intent to give, to provide.
- I am here to give – the intent of the mature person. – I have come to realize that I have been given so much in life and I just want to…give. The giving is unconditional and comes from gratitude. Some people do not grow to this stage during their lifetime. Instead, they continue to feel entitled and resentful, concerned with getting and accumulating wealth. They will then arrive at this point anyway, at their moment of death. Everything will then be taken from them unconditionally – you cannot take gold or money with you.
If you in your life focus on getting as much as possible in different aspects (money, contacts, career, reputation…), then your life is all about accumulating. Your reference point will be birth, the point at which you start accumulating. With time you get further and further away from that place in time. One of the first consequences of this is that you have a receding view of time. Your view of your own life is one of running out of time.
Perhaps the most problematic consequence of the focus on getting is that it stunts your maturation as a person. Whilst you are still busy accumulating, getting, you do not mature into unconditional giving with age. Rather, you become more like a bloated person, who has eaten too much. You are sitting on your wealth, guarding it and trying to add to it. Sadly, if nothing changes for you dramatically, your point of death will then be difficult. People who are stuck in the intent to get therefore tend to find death scary.
If you on the other hand put your attention on your contribution, you mature as a person over time. You get closer and closer to the absolute unconditional giving of death and it will feel more and more relevant and natural for you to give. Therefore you become softer in nature. You clearly see that you have been given vastly more than you could ever have asked for and that brings to you a feeling of gratitude, which feeds your generosity. It also gives you a feeling of trust, as you can also clearly see that things have worked out in your favour in life. This is actually true regardless of what has happened to you, since you are alive and can count your blessings. You are therefore able to trust that the future will also be good to you and you do not have to fear death.
To me, this all makes sense. I can now see what has happened to the person in the 20-year-old picture. And I can understand his fear that his life is running out. No wonder he has become hard.
If you want to read further on this topic, I recommend reading The Two Sandals.
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