Growing Older or Growing Up?

dreamstime_s_19437665Yesterday I was walking leisurely, not in my usual “hurry-to-nowhere”  mode. Perhaps the excessive heat was a contributing factor to my slower pace but I found myself deep in thought, “miles away.”   All of a sudden the piercing sounds of several emergency vehicles interrupted my thoughts.

Two UTube-like-videos flashed in my mind–One brought me back to Connecticut when late night sirens meant my next door neighbor’s house was on fire.  Another  reminded me of my painful bout with kidney stones and being rushed by ambulance from Disney World to an Orlando hospital.  I can still hear the frightening siren sounds of both incidents in my head.

More sirens brought me back to the present.  Someone was in danger. Was it someone I knew?  Was it a fire, an auto accident, or a medical emergency?

A toddler nearby began clapping.  “Mommy, look!  It’s a fire truck!” The child was ecstatic  to see the bright red truck approaching. I was fearful to see the bright red truck. The child was jumping up and down with excitement.  I was perfectly still. The child was over-joyed at the sound of all the sirens and let out a loud shrill of his own.  I was sick to my stomach and I didn’t utter one sound. The child and I were both seeing the exact same sight at the exact same moment and we had two entirely different reactions–same stimulus, different response.

We could easily argue, that the child “doesn’t know what he doesn’t know” due to his limited time on earth to date,  explaining  the “same stimulus, different response” concept. Nevertheless, it is clear, the child and I view the sound of a fire truck very differently.

But I experience considerable “same stimulus, different response” situations. I think that is because  my friends today represent a  far more diverse group than at any previous period of my life.  Previously my friends and I went to the same school, dressed the same, danced to the same music, and read the same books.  Today, my friends and I pray to different gods, favor different cuisines, support different political parties, and choose to live in different communities for different reasons.  We may by chance read the same book  but we have entirely different reactions, similar to the child and me with the fire truck.

Now you may think that this change represents growing older, but I would disagree.  I would say it is a sign of growing up.Many  women I know who are in their thirties and forties  have already grown up with regard to their awareness of the value of differences. In growing up, we fully embrace other’s points of view.  We delight in diversity and the broadening of our thinking that results. Diversity stretches us, educates us, and gets us closer to fully becoming.

Women with high SUCCESSTROGEN get the value of diversity far sooner than I did. They realized early on in their lives that they needed to think more broadly in order to make the best possible decisions. They embrace diversity, making room for it in their families, neighborhoods, and in their businesses. Looking back, my children have always embraced diversity. My students embrace diversity. And finally, I do as well, looking forward to even  more experiences of same stimulus, different response.

I know due to the natural order of things it took me 68 years to grow older, but what took me so long to grow up?

One response to “Growing Older or Growing Up?

  1. Wow! I almost equate this post to learning the tooth fairy isn’t real? Your “looking through the eyes of a child” lends to the hope that someone always saves the day. As one so young and not being in control of our destiny we can always count on someone making it all better. Being grown up reminds us that it isn’t always happy endings. Unless we make them happen….. I control my happy ending, no matter if I get rescued or rescue myself. Great message, for me at least. Thank you. MAO.

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