"Not everything that can be counted counts
and not everything that counts can be counted."
-- Albert Einstein
Yesterday, my friend Diane at Contemplative Photogrqphy talked about growth and it reminds me of one of my favorite books: George Land's "Grow or Die." Despite having a fog-factor of 37, it is a remarkable book proving the premise of its title. Unfortunately, our measuring stick for growth is almost always: bigger … more … most.
And, since what can be measured … money, speed, time, grades, votes, square footage, and anything else that can be turned into numbers … is what we usually focus on to determine growth, we wind up in a numbers race. Which leaves all those fuzzy, squishy things like love, relationship, joy, beauty, compassion and wisdom, truth, peace, justice and goodness left behind in the murky, unmeasurable "out there."
And, maybe that's good. Can you imagine if the folks who designed "No Child Left Behind" got their hands on relationship … or beauty? You must kiss your spouse four times per day and plant three azalea bushes (color balanced to coordinate with surroundings) in your front yard. And, next year, because growth is good, you will increase those numbers to five for kisses and four for azaleas.
What interests me this morning with this idea of growth, however, is personal. Having reached the age of "retirement" and official entrance into senior-dom, it seems as if the expectation of growth has ended. The thought has occurred to me several times in the recent past that I could stop … just stop … and no one would reach out and shake me and say, "What's wrong with you? Get off your butt and get going. You've got things to do and worlds to conquer." They would just nod, perhaps give me a gentle hug and murmur something about enjoying my golden years. Well, excuse me, but F**K that.
Until our ashes blow away over our favorite vista, we should be expected to grow. The modes might change and maybe we'll move away from all the numbers games, but we need to expect ourselves and our fellow seniors to grow. Regardless of our physical or economic condition, we can pour kindness and love into the world. We can continue to learn and find new ways to experience joy. We can expect ourselves to wake up each day and contribute our hard-won wisdom to the world in small ways or large.
We can expect to be a force for good in the world. Our generation started out thinking we could change the world … maybe we still will. Perhaps it starts with expecting it.