in: Advice, Character, Sunday Firesides

Sunday Firesides: Don’t Let Time Break You

A man holding a stick during Sunday Firesides.

Have you ever noticed that people often get weirder as they get older? They go a little crazy; they fall apart; they come to seem increasingly “off.”

Mental illnesses worsen. Depression deepens. Addictions harden.

It isn’t just issues that rise to the clinical level that emerge; what were once mere quirks in someone’s youth intensify into personality-disrupting, life-sabotaging idiosyncrasies.

Here’s an unappreciated fact about aging: every additional year you spend on earth adds to an ever-accumulating weight on your psyche.

The more time that passes, the more sorrowful griefs, tragic losses, dashed dreams, and thwarted expectations come to rest upon your shoulders.

Even in a very good year, you experience hundreds of stresses, setbacks, and frustrations that find a permanent place in your psychic pack.

By the time you’re pushing middle age, the daily load you carry is exponentially larger than it was in your youth.

It is this weight, the weight of time, that can eventually break you.

As more and more layers pile up on the patina of your psyche, the pressure widens already-existent cracks in your psychic structure, leading to collapse. 

The tools that carried you through youth are not sufficient to carry you through older age. You must cultivate stronger (and more flexible) capacities. You must develop inner resources that are commensurate with the larger load. You must grow to the same degree that the weight of time does.

Fortunately, the very same loads that can crush you, can also be used as resistance training for your spirit. The struggles that can be a burden can also be turned to fruitful account: used as the exercise that builds the strength of your perspective, resilience, patience, and humor — the training that creates a broad back capable of shouldering time’s weight and the well-muscled legs that’ll continue to propel you forward. 

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