When You Look Back

C_-S_-Lewis-Desk-and-StudyThis morning browsing for a quotes something C.S. Lewis wrote came into my view: When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up. Those words started me thinking how absurd a good bit of what society defines adulthood is.

Long ago I grew tired of being young although our society holds youth as it’s holy grail. The 20s and 30s were exhausting as I tried to fit in, succeed and act like I knew what I was doing when I really didn’t. Somewhere in it all, I started to become ‘me’. In some ways mature for my years and in others quite childish for my age. That was the start of becoming a man. Lesson: Don’t be in too big a rush to lose everything behind related to childhood. Innocence is often a clear scope for looking at things accurately.

To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. C.S. Lewis

The changes from twenty-one to thirty years of age exceed all my combined changes of all other years. What level of maturity I did  attain came mostly from painful experience and no other place. Lesson: The only real ‘truth’ anyone can ever know for certain comes from their own experiences, especially the painful ones.

Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world. C.S. Lewis

Most of my life I have been afraid of love; fearful of being hurt. What life taught is love always bring suffering to balance its joy. Without that certainty, the love I have come to know would have far less meaning. Lesson: The greatest and deepest love will in time bring the greatest pain. To fear the latter is to deny one’s self the former.

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable. C.S. Lewis

My heart and mind are buzzing now with the lines of thinking C.S. Lewis put me on today. I was only ten years old when he passed away, but his legacy lives on for me as a favored writer, teacher and adviser. I owe a debt of gratitude to C.S. Lewis’ best friend, JRR Tolkien, for introducing me to Lewis in an article I read about the two men when I was at a young, impressionable age. Within the fantasies they spun I found wisdom I will always be grateful for.

Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes,
but when you look back, everything is different…
C.S. Lewis

About James Browning

A seeker working to grow each day and be a better version of my self. Through sharing I commit myself deeper to my ideals and beliefs.
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