The history of nations and organisations is replete with examples of leaders who just won’t let go. Even when their time is empathically and visibly up, too many just can’t detach thenselves from the habits and trappings of power.
These stories usually end badly.
I explained here last week: there is a time and place for all the activities and priorities of your life. There is an age for everything. An age in which to study without earthly burdens on your shoulders; an age in which to procreate, avhieve, take charge and be at the centre of things; an age in which yo reflect, take stock, deepwn wisdom and ease off; and finally, an age in which to let go of wordly matters.
Doing the wrong thing on the wrong age is what leads to drama and discomfort. And most of us, once we get trapped in wordlt mattersz just can’t evolve any further. We love being someone who’s needed and valued; we love the rewards of accomplishment, both tangible and intangible.
We enjoy being attractive, important and recognised- so much so that we can’t move on from these addictions.
“When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childiah things.”(1 corinthians 13:11) are well known and well understood. We must grow, and we must cast aside these things that mesmetised us in the past, otherwise we remaib trapped in things we should have left behind. Our growth comes from changing our preoccupations and our paraphernalia.
But why is it we fail to understand that growth and evolution should happen throught our lives, not just when we become adults?
Why is it we cannot grasp that there are toys of adulthood that we also need to leave behind? There is a time ro value your possesions and your social connections and your fame abd your status- and there is also a time to leave these trivial pursuits behind.
The teacher Swami Parthasarathy, in his various writing and discourses, explains the idea of renunciation well. It does not mean walking away from all material possessions and relationships and becoming an ascetic; no, renunciatoon is something we should all aspire to and not fear. We need not stop enjoying things; all we need to is elevate our enjoyment to a higher level.
When we were children l, we had many toys and playthings. We were very attached to them. As we matured, however those toys stopped holding anymeaning for us-even though they were right there. Our attentiom moved on as we evolved.
It is the same with the playthings of grown-ups. In the middle part of our lives we may become attacjed to many pursuits; sensual pleasure, the exercise of power, the need to feel needed. But these too must become mere playthings thay we move on from. They can stay right there among us- but we should change our attachment to them. We can only grow further if these toys, too, can be left behind.
Few pull it off. Many use artificial and desperate means to look young, because they allow being attractive to the entireeaning of their lives. Many eat and drink as though they were half their age, not realising that their bodiea can no lpnger handle the challenge. And many persist in their duties of office, refusing to countenance a transition or a succession, when their nations and organisations badly need freshblood and fresh thinking.
A wiser person takes stock every few years, and decides which things to let go of. The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzi put it brilliantly: “To attain knowledge, add things everyday.”
As we age, we shouls be changing not only our wardrobes and our appetites, but also our roles and responsibilities. Coaching others, reducing our active responsibilities, allowing new thinking to enter the arena- this is how thoughtful persons evolve. They go before they are asked to, or before nature intervenes.
Human achievement is not just about us, in our brief lives; it is about being part of chain of humans on earth over aeons. If we have that in mind, qe would regard handovers and fadeaways as natural- and necessary-parts of living this life.