Am I the things that I say, the things that I do or the things that I think? Perhaps it is the sum of all these THINGS. It's fascinating to look back on our younger selves and recognise the 'stages' we make our way through. I shake my head increduously at the rash acts of my youth. Things I would never do now, words I would not say.
When I see my children going through these same stages it helps me to be less harsh in my approach to their brutalness. To realise that maybe we need to pass through these 'stages' to become who we are. To be brutal and have others be brutal to us, may be necessary in developing our empathy. This is how we learn to discipline our tongues, to marshall our thoughts, to direct our actions. In reading SPRING by David Szalay, I find his character James reflecting on the changes in his life:
"Once he wanted more than he does now. Once, his idea of his own life, of what it was meant to be, was something magnificent. It seems a sort of insanity now. A sort of megalomania. An impediment to a proper view of the world."
I think this is a neat summary of what we term 'the arrogance of youth'. I know people who never seem to pass this 'stage'. Humility is not an option. There is an almost frightening certainty about who they are and what they do. They would struggle to relate to the Dalai Lama's advice; "When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new."