(NaturalNews) The guy behind me is still honking his horn and flipping me off, riding my tail like white on rice. I stare intently at the rear view mirror, praying this guy doesn't decide to let his rage get the best of him. I had unwittingly cut him off. It was my error, clearly. I should have seen that it was a little tight to change lanes. Now, three miles later, I am paying the price and hoping to avoid be forced into a car accident with my daughters in the back seat...wait...there he goes! He guns his big Dodge truck and passes me on the left, laying on the horn, emphasizing his middle finger and coming too close for comfort. The scowl on his face under the San Diego Chargers hat says, "WTF?" He looks to be about 50.
I am no saint, but aren't Americans as a whole just a bit immature? When I was a practicing mental health counselor in Albuquerque, I enjoyed working with a retired couple in their 80's. They were having issues with the staff at the assisted living facility and it was my pleasure to help them learn to get more of what they needed. Along the way, I got a glimpse into life at this community of 65+ year olds. Amazed at the high level of gossip, he-said-she-said stuff, as well as outright deception, betrayal, marital infidelity, social posturing, power struggles and backbiting, I asked my clients what on earth was going on. Shouldn't you be past all that? Don't people grow up, eventually?
"Don't kid yourself!" laughed my clients. "Retired folks are just as immature as anyone. Living there is like junior high school all over again, if not worse, because we're all cranky."
Cut to a scene in Palm Springs, California. This is the Desert Woman's Show, where exhibitors and vendors from all over Southern California attempt to woo the desert's affluent women. The Palm Springs area is home to a swelling retiree population and, looking around the show, I can see the massive amounts of "work" that has been done. Faces so distorted with multiple plastic surgeries that they honestly resemble various versions of Chucky. Their skin has been pulled back so many times that the only expression left is perma-grin. If you haven't seen the retired women of Palm Springs, it is almost worth a trip to the area. Unforgettable.
I am starting to sound like a genuine cynic, I know. I have a deeper question, however. Why do we largely refuse to grow up? Why do so many, rather than merely care for their health and grow old gracefully, focus solely on appearance and pretended youth? Why are we so easily offended and ready to blame? What makes us so petty and defensive?
In the big picture, it isn't a cultural goal. If emotional maturity were emphasized as much as financial viability in America, more people would be mature. Ironically, it is our immaturity, more than anything, that has caused the current global financial mess. It is our immaturity that drives our low savings and high credit card spending. We want what we want and we want it now, like small children. Let the future take care of itself. Delaying gratification, the ultimate sign of emotional maturity, is about is pleasant to us as a root canal, actually much worse. We get root canals when we need them, but stubbornly refuse to grow up even though remaining immature may be the end of us. Nope. We aren't having any of that grown up stuff! Eventual financial ruin is acceptable as long as we can play now.
And so goes the sad tale of a current culture that abhors the idea of making sacrifices, compromising with others, learning to be graceful, being willing to admit when we are wrong and the list goes on. What is to be done?
It starts with you. It starts with me. Let's make emotional maturity a goal. Becoming wise, settled, graceful and self-accepting requires an intentional effort over time. There are personal development tools available, more than ever before, and they are extremely important to learn. We can think more deeply, work out our emotional angst, learn to let go and achieve lasting productivity and happiness.
In our later years, we can learn to accept the ageing process, take good care of ourselves and reflect upon a life well lived. Most of all, we'll enjoy an inward calm and sense of equilibrium. Isn't this worth making an exit from the current culture of greed, short-sightedness, materialism and plain childishness?
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