A Bad Rap

You know how they say, “don’t knock it till you’ve tried it”. I think under the shadow of this culturally received wisdom, maturity has had a bad rap. In my life it has been a euphemism for early nights, sensible behaviour, studiousness, unpopularity and missing out on fun. Never would I have known it opens avenues of sincere, loyal and beneficial friendships; freedom to enjoy the seemingly mundane events that make up much of our days and opportunities for releasing the pressures that people and culture create.

 I have an African friend who is perplexed by the immaturity of many of his adult colleagues. He sees how miserable they are through most of their times, sees them let them their hair down in frenzies of activity, involving copious amounts of alcohol and then, the inevitable decline back into misery. Many cultures still celebrate maturity. Rights of passage for men seem to imbue the desire to man up and take responsibility. I guess it’s a confidence that comes from seeing older men enjoying lives of purpose and meaning.

I’m not suggesting there’s a perfect system available, however, when when what’s offered is the, ‘earn as much as you can rat race, to be able to buy stuff you can’t afford with money you don’t have to impress people you don’t know’, sometimes numbing the hopelessness with immaturity is an equally attractive option.

Why am I sharing these issues in the month that I am supposed to be writing about coaching? Because your sport, if not careful, can offer the same escape into lala land as a life of booze filled and neglect of your meaning and purpose. We need athletes who know that maturity isn’t something to put off till tomorrow. By pursuing maturity today you’ll liberate tomorrow to make wise choices.

Is this all nonsense? Aren’t you having a great time with your friends? Are these the musings of someone who is out of touch with the reality of modern culture? Hey, I want you out having a wild time but on your terms. See how foolish people are, how they seek to exploit each other, how beneath the veneer of beauty there is ugliness. People need to be loved, need to know that it’s a beautiful life.

Love your body, let it dance, shout for joy, run and jump. Do you remember your youth when you played without inhibition? You were closer to maturity then than the times when you’re tanked crazy. Here’s the choice, get fired up with artificial substances, the stuff you buy you can’t afford, or get fired up with something money can’t buy – Love!

How do you see the women in the picture? Do you know what they’d value, welcome and enjoy? A brother or father looking out for them! That’s the secret. “Treat younger women as sisters and older women as mothers”. When you have the maturity to treat all women who cross your path with dignity, value and respect it will go well, you will have trust and you will have purpose. Offer a counter cultural model that any women, born into a society that treats them as objects to be owned by the highest bidder, will enjoy. Be a friend, companion and then, for one, a soulmate. Love is an action and commitment before it’s a feeling.

Now you don’t have any time to waste on flippant words, social networking or TV. Your habits develop character and good character is a beautiful thing, far more attractive than the arrogance of vanity, gazing into mirrors, fancy clothes, and a witty remark. Choose your words with care, write a letter, spend time in silence and alone. You don’t need to be smart or beautiful to be mature. There are some gorgeous bright people, out on the town, who are lonely and in desperate need of love. You’ll meet them in your sports clubs, places of work and out and about. See them all as people who need to know love and be loved and who are loved beyond all measure, if only they knew it.


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