Today I find myself thinking about growth. There is a saying that if a tree stops growing, it is dying. I have no idea if that’s technically true, but I do believe humans need to be lifelong learners. Seeking knowledge is stimulating on a very basic and essential level. Some people find hobbies that they spend the rest of their lives perfecting. Some people find a continuous stream of activities that give them novel experiences. Some people make career changes. Some people are on a spiritual journey. I have found that teaching causes me to continually grow to meet the varied needs of my students. I have also found that as my children have grown, I grow with them.
Growth is a fascinating process to me. In and of itself, I think it’s worth examining. What is growth? What does it really mean? To me it is like the process of molting shells. We are constantly shedding aspects of ourselves that no longer fit. Maybe it’s a self-limiting belief. Maybe it’s an outmoded behavior or reaction. Growth is often about shedding something that no longer serves us. We find a better way, a healthier way, a more efficient way, or just something that makes us feel better. Maybe the old way worked fine for a time but is no longer adequate. It seems simple enough but then, it’s not. What about the comfort of an old habit? What about the effort required to make a change? Sometimes we cling to an old way, just because it’s broken-in. Being conscious takes a pretty concerted effort especially in the beginning.
Singing technique requires a lot of muscle memory. I like to be unconscious of technique when I sing so I can be a more effective performing artist. As a parallel, any habit we replace takes a lot of effort in the beginning and then just becomes automatic. As more habits form and get assimilated into our unconscious routine, we are freed up to think of the next step in our growth. It’s a process that never ends.
Maybe it seems like a silly waste of time to go through all that. That’s fine. It’s always a choice. But if you aren’t actively living and growing, what is life about? Isn’t that just sleepwalking? We only get one life (as far as I know). I believe in getting the most out of it.