The seasons and cycles govern the world in every aspect, and man himself is no exception. Consider the plain example of the seasons of maturity, as an infant grows to the age of adolescence and proceeds up the apogee of his prime before dipping down into the ebb of infirmity. The cells in our bodies, governed by a pace of time many scores quicker to what we are accustomed by human activity, move through the cycle of similar phases on a daily basis. To the stars above our heads, we notice quite the reverse. These glowing spheres move round the brilliance of their sun, with their own moons revolving around them in turn, and the rate of this activity is slow enough to bore most common men to eventually ignore their existence altogether.
Men age and transition from one season to the next according to laws which take us all through an individual journey of buzzing spring to ripe winter. Compare the newborn baby from the bedridden senior, and look passed the flesh to discover what it is deep inside which distinguishes the two. The hormonal activity of a child is highly charged, rapid and borderline volatile. Boys and girls are in the spring and summer of their existence, with their bodies and functions lusting after the full experience which life has to offer. As they grow and mature through their later years, this hormonal activity lessens and slows down gradually, as their metabolism and inner activity approaches the halting moment of their eventual death.
A man is swimming in the ocean on a stormy day; waves splashing hard against him, pulling his head below the surface and forcing him to strive very hard to stay afloat and survive. The storm subsides slightly and he is able to manage the softer motions with greater ease than before. He can breathe more deeply and even take a moment or two between waves to look to the birds, clouds, sun and stars. A moment later the weather calms and the water becomes ever so tranquil. A man is able to relax and float his body upon the surface as he indulges to a moment of peace and pleasure. So much more control is available to him as the storm is absent and the pressure to survive dims down to an more or less effortless state.
While this serves as a perfect analogy for our daily trials and challenges, it speaks volumes also to the general difference between youth and old age. For hormonal activity in our later years quiets down to the peace and tranquility which we note in the above as becoming ever less demanding on our ability to be resilient and perserving. The storms of life have abated quite dramatically from those experienced in our youth. Yet these old men and women may not realize that instead of having necessarily learned anything, or having become ‘more’ wise from the experience of life, their newfound grace can simply be the result of an ever diminishing rate of hormonal activity within them.
In the storm of life, youth are challenged and the muscles of capacity and capability are continually tested. The more the young man flexes his muscles of ingenuity and creativity for the sake of the interesting positions life throws at him, the more he is able to actually develop into someone who acts in a storm with the same stoic grace as he would in the storm’s absence. For if one’s inner state be always subject to the world of hormones, blinding him to believe that he is in desperate times when he is not, or to indulge in feverish excitement when the situation calls for sobriety, then he is as much a slave as a stringed puppet to its bidding master.
The young quite naturally perceive the old as venerable and worthy of respect. Line up in a row men and women who are passed the age of 50, and include in their ranks not only those who are noteworthy leaders, noble laureates, common housewives, and discipline craftsmen, but also the despicable murderers, criminals and psychopaths which society detests so wholeheartedly. Let none speak, but simply stand there idle and motionless, clothed in the same identical garment. The young man will look upon all of them indiscriminately, mechanically appreciating and respecting each, and assuming they are all filled with rich experience which conveys wisdom and strength of character.
For the mere mark of old age stirs such presumptions of the substantial worth of that human creature, regardless of whether they actually deserve such credit. Old age is thus a peculiar spectacle, for both the young and old to look upon with a healthy dose of doubt and speculation. Any man or woman can live in the calm seas of old age and wrongly assume that their inner tranquility is a quality of their own being rather than simply being due to the absence of a calm and light inner physiology. It cannot be expected or assumed that they have worked by their own merit to deserve the recognition which the mere sight of them causes us to appreciate. And so all of this applies as equally to the assumptions we make towards the young, often looking upon them naïvely as needlessly reckless, wayward and unfit for authority.