We come into the world as infants who must go through various stages of growth before we become adults.
At birth, we are candidates for maturity; and our growth into maturity is not merely a physical process. It is NOT automatic. It involves every aspect of our mind, spirit and personality. We must want to grow, and this takes great personal effort.
Greatness may not be within the reach of every one of us, but growth is. We are each capable of being a more mature person today than we were yesterday . . . and tomorrow can find us further along than we are today. And when we forget this vital truth, we lose sight of the essential meaning of life and the source of its deepest fulfillment.
Successful living is measured, not in terms of what we acquire, but in what we become. It comes not from outside us but from within us; and so many of us miss this point.
My colleague and mentor, Rabbi Harold Kushner, wrote a book entitled: “When All You Have Ever Wanted Isn’t Enough.” Why is it not enough when we acquire all the material things we thought would bring us happiness?
The answer is to be found in the nature of our beings. We need the material things to enable us to survive with more or less comfort. But essentially we are spiritual beings; and it is there that we must look for fulfillment.
The author Nathaniel Hawthorne left some personal journals in which he jotted down random thoughts. One of the short entries reads: “Suggestions for a story in which the principal character never appears.”
Unhappily, this is the story of too many lives. The principal character simply never appears. The person we might grow into, the human being we might become does not show up.
When we stop growing morally, spiritually and intellectually, we find a sense of discontent gnawing at us. We become “sick with unused self.” We remain haunted by the “principal character” who invades our dreams at night and mars our serenity by day.
In our heart of hearts, we each know that we were meant to keep growing as long as we keep breathing. In every significant area of life, we are constantly capable of improving. We can become more capable of forgiveness, more sensitive to another’s pain, more receptive to criticism, more open to a new idea.
None of us are finished being created. Our principal character is still waiting to appear. Let’s not keep him or her waiting too long.
With warmth and affection,