A seed beneath the soil sprouts unseen, sending a tender tendril through the earth, and breaks through the soil into the light of the sun. It’s is in the first stage of growing up, literally.
Now mostly in the earth and new to the sky it is pale, yellow perhaps, its seed leaves unlike those at later stages of its life, should it grow beyond the hunger of ants and larvae, the lack or the excess of rains, late frosts or storms.
If all goes well, there comes a time when the struggling plant is all grown-up, matured, deeply green. If not harvested now, it goes to seed; not a bad thing for a plant, or anyone dependent on it, which is most everyone.
The verb to grow in its origins beyond the Old English spoke of plants that become green and flourish. It is also related to the word grass, which is rooted in the meaning of shoot or sprout.
Something grown-up then has passed beyond the sprouting stage, turned green, and matured far beyond its beginnings. There’s no place to grow beyond this plateau. It is all grown-up and past the cusp of the parabolic sweep of life.
All around in the west at least there are grown-ups denying the teachings of seedlings, adults well beyond their tender years who still nourish an obsession with growth, financial or personal, and so never seem to reach maturation. The spell of eternal life and agelessness murks here, and death phobia, and our reluctant relationship with grief too.
What happens then to the child surrounded on all sides by people who on all accounts are well beyond germinating or sprouting and so mature, who nevertheless insist on their continued right to and their absolute need for more growth and the never-ending manifestation of their unrealized potential?
An adult’s refusal to recognize maturation is an alliance with excess, limitlessness, adolescence, a refusal to acknowledge the extinction of potential, the manifestation of a blueprint, and the obligation to what is.
A child growing in a community absent someone who is willing to be grown-up, someone who has resolved no longer to face towards the next frontier of personal growth but to take the time necessary to turn and look back at the child, is left wanting, surrounded by equals undifferientiated by life-stages.
There is no one around to offer the child a sense of the arch of things yet to come, an understanding of their place in life, and the possibility if all goes well, of them one day also being fully grown-up
As parents that may be all that is asked of us, that we be willing to mantle the role of adults who are done growing, people who no longer long for youth or compete with it for the newest something, the next frontier or higher peak, but who offer guidance to the sprouts by dint of having grown up ourselves, and therefore being willing to be distinguished by our maturity