(And how it might relate to Yin and Yang theory!)
The old joke goes “We ARE the people our parents warned us about!”
Dear readers, I’m going to need an archetype for this story. How about we take the midline as a middle class British guy? – yes I know it’s lazy journalism, but this is the strata that I understand the best, as I’m a premium representative of it!
(And how could I put myself in your shoes, without making massive assumptions!?)
“The System” – sets up a young middle class boy with worries of poverty at his heels, and a “golden future” just beyond his fingertips.
Few hit the goal, many hit the backstop.
Aged 7, I was a happy country child who wanted for nothing, was loved, well educated, and content with life.
Aged 14, I was discovering my strengths and weaknesses, my pleasures and pains, my loves and hatreds.
At 21, I was already free in the world, trying to make my way.
By 28, I was beginning to settle down.
From 35 to 42 was a midlife-crisis of sorts..
by 49 I was settled and happy, generally…
I’m now in my late 50’s and have hit my stride. I’ve discovered who I am, who I REALLY am, what makes the world tick, and a huge amount about my fellow travellers, that many people will never discover.
One overlay of Chinese medicine has it as seven year cycles of change, another as eight years, and yet a third as seven or eight depending on ones sex.
Take a little look at your own life. In terms of these cycles, you’ll see how it seems to mirror the changes in your own life well, in most cases.
It’s widely understood in Chinese psychology, and in other systems that from 0 – 7 years old, we have no protective system for our emotions. This is why Norwegian children only really start school at seven years old.
The understanding is that children should be cosseted, and reared carefully within a balanced family, until their “Skin” is thick enough to endure the slights of the outside world.
From 7 – 14 (roughly) Children have to figure out how to look after themselves “physically” in the outside world. In ancient China, Marial Arts training would commence at this age, to teach a child respect, kindness and careful, thoughtful application of power. (Nobody should be trained to be a bully)
Academic life streams in alongside from seven years old onwards, but to include the arts, not just numbers and science.
How would you have a real rounded understanding of cruelty and beauty if you only ever studied numbers?
And so it went following the evolution of a person.
Yin and Yang theory
There’s a second “Life” overlay we can offer here too.
It suggests that Yin and Yang theory washes through our lives. That we follow a tide of ebb and flow, which makes us who we are.
It’s a slightly broader brush stroke, rather than dealing with development cycles, it deals more with the phases of our emotional life.
0-20 is Yang, 20 – 40 is Yin, 40-60 in Yang again, and 60 -80 is Yin again.
This system is called “Warrior, Scholar, Teacher and Sage.”
You get it immediately no doubt?
In the first period of your life you fight, crusade, and battle to protect what you believe in. Yang is hot and fiery, and describes energy from inside bursting outwards. (In aggression generally..)
From your twenties to forties, you have much to learn, This is University, or the University of Life, it’s learning how to become a parent, a householder, or even just a reliable partner! This is a “Yin” phase of life, where you turn the flow of information back into yourself. You absorb the energy, rather than “firing it off” at others. This phase sees you accept information from external guides..
From your forties to sixties, you have taken enough knocks to have built up lessons for others, you have seen the way the world works, formulated opinions, and are able to turn them back out to others in a productive, not an aggressive way. The flow of energy is now outgoing again, in a Yang flow.
Finally, from one’s sixties to eighties, it’s time to turn back to one’s self-cultivation, draw the energy back inside, and prepare the mind and body.
It’s always shown as the Sage sitting in a cave on the mountain.
This is not the self-absorption of the late teens, this is now a deep understanding of life and your relation to it.
The things that I believed in as a young person, are NOT the same as the things I now believe in.
It’s fascinating to see how the passage of life takes you to a place where you look back with wonder, and find it extraordinary the things you liked to say and do.
There’s the classic battle of freedom versus safety.
As parents, we want to do nothing more than protect our lovely children.
From my childhood to now, the world has become more complex.
People sexuality is now more open, but this leads to abuse becoming more common.
There are more drugs easily available to young people than there were in my day.
As a young person, finding a bit of dope was a treacherous and difficult thing to do.
(These days, I could have a stab at about twenty people who could hook me up.)
As an adult, The City of London was awash with money, and so finding harder drugs was much more simple! The heady combination of Alcohol and Money meant that “everybody had a drug dealer on speed-dial” (Music people love to think they had the monopoly.. sadly not!)
Alcohol used to be found in boozers full of old men, or off-licenses.
It was really pretty difficult to access alcohol as a young person.
These days, every petrol station, super-market and corner shop is brimming with cheap alcohol.
Smoking as a young person used to be difficult!
Smoking is now Vaping, there’s a sanitised attitude that “it’s no so bad for you.”
The amount of “children’s flavours” that one can now vape with is astonishing! It’s clear who it’s aimed at. (Any savvy child can just buy it wholesale off the internet!)
In the long list of addictions we have, possibly the most insidious of them all is the addiction to work. At least if you drink and smoke, you know what you are facing (at some level!) The addiction to money, fuels the addiction to work.
You are selling your LIFE for £9 per hour.
You are giving somebody else your Life Energy for £9 per hour, in an effort to what… buy more vape liquid, buy more alcohol, buy more Ecstasy tablets, buy more Skunk, buy a new car, buy new clothes..
What’s your addiction feeding?
As I said, we only want to protect our children.
As a Child, you are “Hard wired” to decide at some stage, that the values that your parent hold, are NOT your values!
Until the 50’s we were pretty happy to accept that we were just clones of our parents.
Quite often, children would so admire their parents, they would set themselves up next door, in exactly the same house, same job, same car…
The Vietnam War, The Summer of Love, LSD, Madison Avenue, The Beatles and The Stones changed all of that.
During the Second World War, we could still see “Good versus Bad” and felt it was RIGHT to fight for our countries. By the 1960’s so much profit could be extracted from a war, that people started to see that they were 100% disposable. Media and advertising were becoming much more accessible.
From that era, “Tune in, Turn on, and Drop out” became the ideas for youth going forward.
For the first time, the youth started to question the sanity of the older generations.
The medium of Television carried the word, far and wide. A real revolution was being born.
By my teens, I had decided that the guys in charge of the Nuclear Launch Codes, were not to be trusted anymore. How many people had they fed into their war machines, would I be the next? Would my world come to an end in a blinding flash?
(Later in my late twenties, I had an extraordinary moment. At six AM, on a sunny summer Sunday morning, I awoke to the sound of an Air-raid siren from the Second World War, going off, outside my house in South London.
It was still understood that these would be used to warn us of Nuclear attack – still then ever present.
I ran out on the street, to see other fearful looking neighbours. My wife and children slumbered on.
I thought about it for a few seconds, went upstairs, kissed my son and daughter on the fore-head, and climbed back into bed with my wife.
I full expected that to be the last moments of my life. It was just a faulty siren, as we all now know!)
I marched against Nuclear Power, I marched against The Gulf War, I supported the Campaign for Nuclear disarmament. Sadly, NOTHING changed.
My father was a Pacifist. He joined the Merchant Navy during the war, so as to not be killing people, but I never heard him speak against Nuclear Weapons.
In my late twenties, Brixton was in flames. I believe that EVERY life matters, and supported “Rock against Racism” – I lived in Brixton, it was the most fantastically mixed and open minded community.
When people were killed in police cells, I protested.
I was always vocal when it came to police violence, and race crimes.
With a friend, we created PositiveTV and made over 300 films that supported all sorts of alternative views on violence, hate crime, climate destruction, migrant injustice and sex bias.
It just has to be accepted, that we are a “Tabula Rasa” or blank slate when we first arrive.
We are given our family and communities values to get us going.
Some people lap this up, other decided to question it. It’s important to examine your own personal values, try new things, and see who you really are.
In the debate Freedom versus Safety, you always choose FREEDOM!
As life goes by, you stuff yourself with addictions.
You work too hard, and just can’t see it.
You eat too much, your body doesn’t react (just yet)
You develop a love of fine wine! (Until it’s five or seven bottles a week..)
You move from toxic relationship to toxic relationship, without even seeing that this is an addiction to filling the massive hole you feel in your heart.
You prostitute yourself for money, money and more money, just to buy yourself some different shit that will make you feel better for a little while..New jobs, new loves, new cars, new houses…and still there’s that hole..
There comes a stage in SOME people lives, where they ask Why Lord?? Why!??
There comes a stage in other people’s lives, where they accelerate past this turning, ignoring the signs, ignoring the warnings until they hit the wall of illness and death full on. For some people it’s just easier to hit the accelerator and not look at the wall ahead…less painless. (Often it’s not..)
As I say, we only want to protect our children.
Freedom versus Safety
Now the Freedom versus Safety debate starts to swing round.
You see how fragile your life actually is, and all you crave is safety.
(Please God, just give me a few more years to see my children grow up, before you give me cancer, I promise I’ll cut back on my addictions..)
Suddenly you are aware, that all your parents ever wanted for you was the best life they could offer you, and now you are that person.
Worse than that, in trying to protect your children, you have now become hated by them.
They believe as you did, that “Parents can never understand what they are going through”
The baffling “Human experience” is so complex to navigate. Perhaps Evolution has set children against adults for all of time, to thin and strengthen the race?
Adults send Children into wars, Children come back from war broken and send their children to war, it cycles round.
In classic literature children kill their parents all the time, and are then done in themselves by their own horrible children. (I’m glad that cycle seems to be dissolving! It’s still a Gangster, Mafia sort of pattern though..!)
It still seems fair to say that Children who rebel, will have children who rebel.
Our lives are governed by change.
As a parent one can only hope for a moment when one’s own children finally “Understand”
You know my remedy for all of this.. it’s the footnote to everything I write.
- Examine yourself with exercises such as “Who am I” – Mental Hygiene is seriously important.
- Look after your health with exercises like Qigong – addictions suddenly drop away..with no explanation except that one’s body loves being looked after well.
- Meditate, it’s how your body heals itself and regains power
- Eat well, your body needs every chance it can get to heal
- Sleep long. (No matter what it takes, give up coffee, give up electric screens in bed..give up “bad news stories,” give up Swedish Crime Thrillers..) whatever it takes, SLEEP!
- Be part of a community, it’s been shown that outsiders become extremists. Left to one’s own devices, it’s easy to talk yourself into believing all sorts of rubbish, that a community can neutralise.)
- Lead a healthy, loving relationship and sex life.
- Respect Money, don’t fight for it, or worship it. Remember your money is a direct reflection of your life energy.
- List your addictions, find their roots, and destroy them
- Forgive your parents and your childhood however you can, but just do it!
Above all, love yourself, and love others, love, love, love