Life ends at 20!?

posted by Eivind on November 11, 2014, at 1:15 pm

 (answer: no it doesn’t)

The other day, I overheard a conversation where a man about my age (mid 30s) shared matter-of-factly that after he turned 22, his life had turned more and more monotonous. His days were all the same now, and the years now flew by.

I hear this a lot. I hear it all the time from old people, such as my parents. They seem to have this pervasive belief that there is a certain age at which your days suddenly all start looking the same. And then time turns into a fast-moving blur of monotony.

It's always interesting for me to hear people talk about time in this way, as my experience is so different. For me, the years are getting longer and longer. And this last one seems to have lasted for a small infinity.

I remember back to a year ago; I had only just moved to Boulder, Colorado, to start my training to be a Circling facilitator. Little did I know what adventures awaited me there, and the profound transformation I would experience both there and on my return back home.

When I think back on it, I can hardly believe the amount of love, pain, transformation and adventure I've experienced in that short time. So much has happened! It feels so long ago that it's almost "the good old days", you know back in the days when I was digging for gold at the foothills of the Colorado Rockies.


Arr, those were the good ole gold-diggin' days

And here this guy was sat sharing how all his days seemed the same. I don't like hearing that. In fact, it feels me with sadness and anger. "Another one bites the dust". Another man gives up on life. There's even an article about it that's all the rage online right now: Man Tells Heartbreaking Story Of How He Realized He Wasted His Life

I remember reading somewhere that the average human being stops growing psychologically at age 20. This is not the time to do a profound scientific piece where I research that fact (so if you know of this research, please share in the comments below), but it makes perfect sense.

Why? Because that's about the time when our biology train arrives at its station of adulthood. The biological impetus for change all of a sudden vanishes. So we stop growing. We go to universities and cram our heads full of knowledge. Maybe we have a few adventures. But for the most part, it's all a continued movement across a horizontal plane; we don't actually deepen. We don't become more enlightened people.

Does it have to be this way?

Of course not!

Our sense of monotony, perhaps even depression, is just an expression of profound cultural ignorance of what it takes to be an alive human being. We offer our young men and women a template of what success looks like and tell them to conform to its associated social norms and peer pressure. They obey and in the process, they lose touch with themselves. They stop being soulful individuals.

Some of them may wonder if life's supposed to be this way, but they see no alternative - because everyone around them is unfree, out of touch with a better alternative. So they keep plodding along hoping for better times. They never come.

When this man shared that all his days felt the same, he broadcasted loudly that he had stopped living a courageous life. He was simply coasting along, having a little bit of fun here and there, but generally being uninspired. He was betraying himself and I'm certain that he knew this deep down. But he seemed too busy with following the cultural narrative of adulthood to notice.

You can often tell such a man by his frequent use of sarcasm, irony and self-effacing humor.

Here's the deal about 20: Not only do we stop growing biologically, but - as the Jungians would tell us - the ages 20 and 40 are very important thresholds. It appears that our unconscious comes closer to the surface at these times. I myself had a profound life crisis in my early 20s. I answered its call. Some lucky people do. Others feel a call inside them, but choose to ignore it. And we start harvesting the bitter fruits of Self-denial shortly after.

Since we don't initiate people in our culture, we don't have the mythological context or the confidence or courage to take the path less travelled, the path along which the voice of our unconscious would so gladly follow us. So must of us start going down the safe route, even though our unconscious may be hammering us from below screaming for us to listen.

When you feel dead inside, when all your days feel the same, it's not saying anything about the objective nature of reality. It is, however, saying everything about how the choices you've made have impacted you.

So if you feel like your days are all the same, it's time to make a change. This is your life. This right here, right now. You're reading these words in the midst of what is *your life*. And it won't change just because you want it to. God won't drop a better life gift-wrapped into your lap simply because you pity yourself. No, you must commit. You must stand up and exclaim into the world your "I am here!", and you must do it not as an act of rebellion or of validation-seeking, but as an invocation of the very depths of you, as a commitment to start filling up your deflated Soul.

And then you must start planting seeds. One by one. And with time and patience you shall harvest the fruits of your labor. Don’t be in too much of a rush, however. True change takes time. I started on this path 14 years ago.

More and more people tell me how great I am these days. That’s nice, but not that big of a deal. In fact, I downright don’t like it when I pick up in the cadence of the person that he puts me above him, that I’m somehow special.

I just smile, thinking of the one simple truth that they seem oblivious of: Greatness is a result of doing many little things, often in the face of fear, consistently over time. I used to hear this “I’m not special” from people I admired. Now it's my turn to say the same thing. I'm not special. Neither are you. But the seed of greatness lives in you still. (and please, bypass the greatness of immature bravado and go for the mature and humble kind)

No-one is special. You choose to live or you choose to die and your life shall reflect the exact shape of your commitment.

That is all.

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