If there is one thing I’m learning about growing older, it’s that the imperative word is ‘grow’. Life is change and motion. Remain still, stagnate and die. Or accept, adapt and grow.
Sometimes change comes slowly. But looking back through the filter of an imperfect memory it feels rapid, inexorable, unforgiving. I remember, ten years ago, being the introverted thinker who couldn’t care less about what people felt or thought. Focused solely on fulfilling my Great Work of the day, I would close myself off to the world. I learned the hard way that I couldn’t do this forever, that a man has to be both independent and interdependent to succeed. Especially someone in my line of work. I could not, would not, continue to live this way — though it still has its advantages. Today there are times when I still dive deep into myself, when this attitude is not merely helpful but necessary. But I hope I’m more aware now, more able to understand the intricacies of other souls. The great paradox of being a writer is that one must be able to close off all distractions to find and craft the inner vision of the story to attain mastery of the craft — and then open up and promote the work with that same focus to attract customers. It’s yin and yang. Balance. Finding one’s way, the right approach at the right time, is something I’m still working with.
Sometimes change comes as swift as lightning. In the course of a year, my body developed intolerance to many of my daily staples. Indigestion and anaemia was the order of the day. I lost too much weight, too much energy. Medicines, Western and Chinese, could only control symptoms to a very limited degree. And eventually, my body rejected even those, and I cycled through many alternatives to find relief. It took me a while to dig through to the root of my problems, but I’m turning things around with a better diet, a structured health regimen — and no more medicine. If anything, I’m stronger and healthier than before. I know I can be more — and I aim to be.
Change is always a choice. The world may change around you without your input, but changing in response to it is a decision. So is not changing. The choice between being mired in entrenched habits that lead to suffering and forming new ones that lead to wellness is an obvious one — and yet a subtle one. Without willpower, one cannot follow through on a choice. Without awareness of alternatives, one cannot choose. Without being open to alternatives, one cannot be aware. When caught in the furnace of involuntary transformation, one needs to develop openness of mind, critical and creative thought, and determination. The first to understand that something is wrong, the second to find a way to transmute to a higher level of being, and the last to become. All three are choices. If one isn’t accustomed to them, that choice saps mental energy. But the more one chooses specific habits of mind, the more they become innate habits, and the more willpower one frees up — and develops. To grow, one must pick a direction and stay the course.
Ten years ago, I chose growth. I chose the path of the hermetic writer. Today, I choose growth. I choose the path of the writer, the seeker, the warrior, the human. I choose to be more than I am now, to be all I can be and more.
Life awaits, and I choose to live, fully and completely, before I die.