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  • I thought, at some point in the not-too-distant past, there weren't any lessons about myself left to learn. I thought, until quite recently, I'd pretty well delved to the bottom of my personal cache of quirks, faults, traits, affectations, mannerisms, moods, idiosyncrasies, attitudes, et al. I was fairly certain, until this morning, in fact, that at the age of 75 I had pretty much crystallized or jelled as a human being. Mind you, I don't mean I thought I had become a perfect human being! What I mean is that I figured, whatever my mental/emotional/spiritual/social/occupational/environmental "architecture," I was pretty well complete, finished. Well aware that not all those compartments of my nature contained perfectly created and executed quanta, I assumed they were probably as good as they were going to get.

    Then, this very morning, just a few minutes ago, I completed a task I had promised to do. It was a difficult job, unexpectedly difficult. The difficulty became apparent only after I'd said I would do it. The desire to quit was almost overwhelming. I had other things, important ones, to do for myself. This job felt like pushing rope uphill. Compensation was uncertain, so it became a labor of friendship for a person I'd met mere weeks ago.

    But, a few minutes ago, having surprised myself by going against every fiber of my being that was saying quit, I began rummaging around among those stored characteristics and found there was still room for another lesson, one more chance to grow, to fill in what seems now to be a chink in that armor of perfection I've striven for a lifetime to create. I decided sometime in the recent past not to give up on this task--no matter the difficulty, in spite of the inconvenience, and even if the compensation turned out to be insufficient. I determined that this time I would not find a "good" reason to give it up--this time, this task, this promise would be kept.

    The promise I made and kept was not to the person who wrote the book I edited, although he will benefit. The promise--the one I've not always kept--was to myself. When I finished the last word of the manuscript, when it was the best I could make it, something changed. At 75, my molecular crystals shifted to allow for a tiny change in the structure of my being, and I learned the best lesson of all--I haven't jelled yet, even at 75!

    "But one of the great misconceptions of modern life is the assumption that by the magic age of twenty-one we are jelled, dreams in place, ready to tackle the adult world and leave childhood behind. All we lack, according to this myth, is experience. The reality is that many of us lack quite a bit more: a psychic passport to adulthood." Victoria Secunda
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