There’s an old fable about eagles when they reach a certain age where descent of life naturally follows. It tells of a choice eagles can make to either accept the beginning process of dying, or to fly to the top of a mountain and begin the painful process of breaking themselves down for cellular regeneration. The process includes banging their beaks and talons against rocks to break them down and pulling their feathers out. It’s up to the eagle whether the risk outweighs reward. They can chose a longer life renewed or they can accept declination toward death. Choosing a renewed life is a painful, it’s a gamble with multifaceted risks ranging from extended injuries to total starvation. The courage and faith this would take would be extraordinary, probably why the fable specifies that it’s out of the ordinary for eagles to chose. It’s just a fable, but we humans identify with the underlying truths of it more than most of us realize. In a world where for a long time we’ve accepted 40’s to be the beginning of decline, we could use more stories of new life obtained by using nothing more than our own courage and perseverance. Society teaches us that giving up is a normality, and I think we’ve accepted and adopted that into a contagion of failure acceptance. Age is an enormous marketing point and point of conversation. We’re bombarded daily with marketing campaigns telling us how old we feel and what we can buy to fix that. The world is run by marketing. There’s no money in self empowerment, so we embrace the ads thrown at us often without even realizing it. Without constant awareness and knowledge of self we’ve created a cyclical narrative for marketing to live by and for us to die by. Think about how much we all focus on birthdays from infancy-on. It’s beautiful to celebrate life but at a certain point we’re also celebrating death being closer. The ones who win most from our needs for celebration are the corporations. Imagine if we celebrated growth from the inside-out like we do our biological age. We’ve become marketing tools for these companies and our compensation is stress. It’s not growth, it’s declination. At points where we need to gamble on ourselves most we’ve learned to turn to corporate.
Maybe this creates habits of giving up too easily. Maybe fears programmed are so constantly pushed on us from society, ads, even friends that they’ve become habitual patterns of thought. Imagine how disappointed our childhood selves would be if we knew then how easily we’d often give up on ourselves.. give up on them. Comfort is pushed and anti fragility is so ignored that when someone does decide to regenerate, to push forward into something entirely new, the reactions of society include shame and shunning.. just for daring to think we can be something different. It’s easy to blame corporations but at some point we have to look at ourselves. We can’t give up on ourselves. We have to be braver and I think this takes remembering who we are outside of programming. We have to be burned and rise from the ashes sometimes so we’re harder to break. It’s scary. But, another thing we’ve been fed and bought into is that scary is bad. What if scary is like an honest best friend? Do we even know what that looks like now? In a world where we punish people for honesty, we‘re muting gentle souls sharp enough to see through the veil of programming. I’ve watched kids shut down the minute they bring up truths that seem uncomfortable for adults to face. I think once we identify this, it sinks in pretty deeply. The confounding and confusing pressures of societal entanglements with previous views don’t hold up anymore but are still carried on. Ever increasing corporate and political narratives about our lives in order to sell ideas for their bottom lines are weighing real individuals down into complete exhaustion. It’s easier to give up because giving up is so publicly accepted now. Years of our lives that could be filled with experiences, explorations, and exponential growths are wasted. When we ignore the possibility of really living, something very special inside us slowly dies.
Dr Seuss called this the Waiting Place, ‘for people just waiting’:
‘Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come or the rain to go or the snow to snow or waiting around for a yes or a no, or waiting for their hair to grow. Or waiting perhaps for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil or a better break or a string of pearls or a pair of pants or a wig with curls or another chance.. Everyone is just waiting.’
Then he goes on to say, ‘NO! that’s not for you! Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where boom bands are playing. And with banner flip flapping ONCE MORE YOU’LL RIDE HIGH! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of guy.’
Suess gifts kids (us) with a really important lesson here I think we missed. I think understanding it may save us. The waiting place has become increasingly sneaky. The more we seem to embrace needing, the less we’re able to see that what we need most is to be true to ourselves. The more we buy into a lack of comfort, the less comfortable we become. If we hide from growth we not only slowly die, we become blind and deaf to the real world and all of its beauty and tragedies. How can we use who we are to help others when we can’t help ourselves. If we’re not moving forward, we’re moving back and if everyone stops moving forward civilization as a whole moves back. Look at where we are in the world right now.. maybe if we accepted ourselves we’d be more accepting to others. Maybe if we weren’t afraid of breaking we’d be able to create something entirely new for all kids to look up to. Christ felt Love, not pain, when He was nailed to the cross. Maybe it’s time to stop being afraid of pain. To accept that growth is painful, and pain isn’t the enemy. Giving up on ourselves is the enemy.
As humans we have a choice that’s not commercialized: To live and die by our societal structures, or to rise up, creating something entirely new.
The fable about eagles is fiction, but what we can create for ourselves through understanding it doesn’t have to be.