"At my age, I must avoid stress"(Arnold Bennett)
Versione italiana al link: Cogliere le occasioni
Just a few days ago I was reflecting with a friend about how life presents everyone with opportunities to improve and grow, even if they are often in open conflict with our habits or our comfortable status quo.
A person's intelligence is measured precisely by his or her ability to recognise such opportunities to evolve and to know how to seize them. There seems to be a limit age after which, if certain emancipatory steps have not been taken, we will probably no longer be able to take them. This limit may vary depending on cultural contexts, but from what I observe around me, it is somewhere between 30-35, maximum 40 years.
If one has not left the parental home or has not experienced marriage and cohabitation within those years, one will hardly be able to do them afterwards, unless there are special events. After the age of forty, everything that is change is perceived as doubly threatening and all it takes is a disturbing micro-thought to block our every creative flair or reckless impulse. Our emotions are now sclerotized and not very vital, our sense of adventure equal to that of a timid pangolin, our erotic charge asymptotically approaching zero. Let's face it: we are fine in our small comforts and our reassured routine, even if we occasionally get bored or complain that life 'hasn't offered us opportunities'.
Let's take a classic example: I am a woman in her forties who has always lived with her parents, and along comes a man I like, perhaps even with a house of my own. After a while of dating, he asks me to grow our relationship and move in together. The reaction? "Of course, darling, it would be a dream, but..." and the parade of excuses begins, all of them impeccable and sensible: we don't have a steady job, we have to take care of our elderly parents, we have to look after the dog, change the cat's litter box, move the seven hundred clothes and accessories for hair and make-up. So we postpone endlessly - and to the poor man's exhaustion - the step out of the womb.
Then time passes, the boyfriend passes, and we are always there, spoilt and ungrown children, complaining that opportunities only happen to others, that the universe is unfair and cruel, that I deserved that job or that money that 'surely' would have made me move out on my own or live with my partner. We seldom realise that our a little miserable existences are the punctual effects of causes driven by us, that we have missed our opportunities through laziness, immaturity and fear of life itself.