Monday, October 6, 2008

When did you become an adult?

When did you go from being a girl to a woman? When did you go from being a boy to being a man? Whenever I have posed this question to a group of people, I hear a huge variety of answers.

Women might answer: when I left home, when I went to college, had my first sexual experience, had my first baby, had my first period, got divorced, got my first job, got my degree, got my first house. And so on.

Men might answer: when I left home, went into the armed forces, went to college, graduated from college, got my first job, had my first sexual experience, got married, got divorced, got my first house, became a father, and so on.

There is no one line of demarcation in our society today as there was in earlier cultures or tribal cultures where there was a specific ritual for young boys or girls to mark their passage into manhood or womanhood.

In some respects this fact has caused some people to feel uncertain about when they are really taking charge of their own lives.

But in other respects, we can see every one of these and more, as opportunities to begin life all over again, no matter what our age. As we get older, these points of renewal also include surviving a serious illness or the death of a parent, close relative, friend or loved one, the loss of career or job.

Each significant moment represents an opportunity to start life over and see everything through fresh eyes, in some ways we learn to live all over again. When we find ourselves adjusting to life without a parent or spouse, or having to learn a new way of making a living, taking up a different type of spiritual path or religion, learning new health habits, dropping the more vigorous, aggressive sports of our younger years for more gentle sports. All of these things reflect an inner and outer change.

The reason that there is such a variety of answers to the question posed is because there is not one right answer. There are many opportunities to begin life anew.

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