24 October 2013
Beginning and end. Start and finish. Birth and Death. From a societal or even in a broader – anthropological – sense we have been conditioned to accept a chronological view of both life and our environment. Popular religious texts often speak of a beginning and end. In reality though there may be no such thing as a birth or a beginning. Cosmologists even argue as to whether the Big Bang was the result of a release of pressure from the collapse of the entire Universe into a point of singularity or whether it was the origin of our universe.
Often we perform and annual ritual of celebrating our birth – being the day we emerged from the womb. This may include the now very common practice of posting well-wishes or other comments to a recipient's Facebook page, sending a card or gift, or being at a party including a cake appearing to pay homage to the Great Chicago Fire for folks getting up there in age.
The concept of our birth can be abstract and evoke a broad range of possibilities. A discussion on that point would include determining “who are we”. When or what was the spark that gave rise to who we are. In the pre-emergence period there is the moment of conception – when two sets of 23 chromosomes of each of our parents united – that contain the genetic material that map our physical development and contain psychological preferences. However, it can be argued that in a way, in a quantum sense, when our parents thought of conceiving us that we came into existence. Scientific research has demonstrated that egg and sperm development are affected by thought. Still, going further back, is the idea that we are simply a realignment of existing matter – stardust at it most primitive level – and are therefore all some 13 billion years in age.
I recently broached the age issue with a group of legislators. Particularly I raised the issue of the prohibition of minors having alcohol. By age 21 years a person is presumed to have been conceived 21 years and 9 months earlier. The extremely preterm [>26 weeks] or very low birth weight [>1000g] children have been shown to experience cognitive dysfunction at a significant rate. Numerous studies show that less than half are at the same school grade level as their full term peers. That is, they develop at a slower rate and thus their psychological age falls behind their chronological age. If the alcohol prohibition is based, as is claimed, on a cognitive developmental basis then allowing some people who are as young as 21 years and 5 months post conception and who have a lower maturation level than their full term peers did at that age – who also must wait an additional 4 months – seems contrary to logic. That elicited an "oh you are going to create a mess their" response. But enough of that, it's a different subject.
Contemplating our essence requires that we also venture in the opposite direction. The “I” in who am I must contain a personality component. Although Meyers and Briggs identified 16 distinct personality types humans are not distinguished as being one of 16 personalities. In reality, most of us would say that everyone has their own personality. While some of this is no doubt inherited you will find that most of it is environmental or learned. This is clear among the distinction between those who have an internal or external locus of control. That is, do they believe that they are the cause of events in their lives or events happen to them based upon some outside force under which we have no control. Research indicates that personality is not fully developed until around the age of 12 years. So, who we are is not formed at a moment but comes into existence over years.
Regardless of how one determines that which constitutes our 'birth', the celebration of birth is generally an auspicious occasion that passes without, what I believe to be, due reverence to the event.
Our first may have include adults, like a pack of schoolchildren daring a classmate, trying to get us to plant our face in a cake. Themes change along with our age. Particular milestones may dictate particular places. Some may be a fete which occur at a workplace or be as intimate as two people simply sharing time together.
But I caution – don't let it just be a function. Instead, think of the meaning of yours and others existence. We give reverent homage upon death. But as funerals are becoming celebrations of life the same should be true of birthday anniversaries. Recall the shared experiences. Be the intoxicant that lifts all from their depths when the darker moments are recalled. It is the moments of glory. It is those moments of despair. It is every moment in between. Recall them all because that is what makes us who we are. But celebrate those moments of joy and advertise themselves across your face. Be not the postman, be the circus that annually delivers those good tidings.
Never again let those words “Happy Birthday” flow from your mouth without conscious regard for the person whose birth is celebrated.
If you need assistance in obtaining insight into yourself then please visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me. There is no charge for initial attorney consultations.
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©2008, 2013 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Due Reverence in Celebrating Birthdays - When were you actually born
24 October 2013