Tuesday 4 October 2011
My first guest blogger is Aussie author Vacen Taylor, and you can find her on Twitter as @VacenTaylor. In her own words, Vacen is emerging into a writer of Sci-Fi with a twist of horror, splash of humour, and a dollop of the supernatural. How do I see Vacen? Well, aside from being a talented writer, I see her as a supporter of other emerging writers, a woman of varied interests, a fine photographer, and someone who is not afraid to live life on her terms. In her email to me regarding the post, Vacen wrote:
‘I love when people think about their life, their choices and their journey . . . What excites me is life and understanding the rhythmic balance, if it exists. I question things all the time. That’s why I don’t follow the mass (so to speak) … and I have always taken the path less travelled. I’m hoping if anyone reads this they will think about the rhythm of life, question it, and perhaps wonder about its relevance.’
So, here’s the world according to Vacen . . .
It’s Just a Phase You’re Going Through
You are about to enter, THE PHASES ZONE! ♫ queue music ♫
You unlock this door with the key… Hold up. Stop the music. It’s nothing like that at all.
Most people go about each day with little or no understanding of the rhythm of life. There are hundreds of books that delve into this subject, encouraging people to think about the phases in life. Some experts say the course of life is a path through the biological, psychological and the spiritual. I guess some people will be rolling their eyes about now. So let me put it this way, growth is said to happen in phases, any good writer will know that, especially for character development, but people in general often don’t recognise it: birth to second teething, second teething to puberty and puberty to adulthood – the rest is all downhill from there. I’m kidding.
That’s all dandy, if a person believes in phases, but some people don’t. In fact there are lots of people that might argue that biological decline has nothing to do with possible spiritual development. What if spiritual development never happens because the person believes purely in science? What if someone fails to ask the right question in one assumed phase? Do they still move into the next phase or have they failed to lay the foundation to move on? Is this why some individuals struggle on a daily basis? Or is everything connected? ‘It’s just a phase I’m going through.’ When a saying sticks around for a long time it has to come from somewhere, for some reason.
Academics have differing opinions. There are countless experts that claim there are only three main phases worth talking about. In Bernard Lievegoed’s book Phases: The Spiritual Rhythms of Adult Life, he talks about how the Romans believed in five phases, the Dutch six, and the Greeks ten. Three phases listed in Bernard Lievegoed’s book are: 0-18 years, acquaintance with the inner and outer world; 18-42 years, acceptance of the inner and outer world; and 42-death, reflection on the inner and outer world. But I put my hands up for the Greeks on this subject, mostly because it is with their phases that I have the most fun with here. So come with me as we move through the ten phases according to the Greeks.
In Fantastic Four: Rise of the Sliver Surfer, the Silver Surfer said ‘All that you know, is at an end.’ Well, right now that means the last phase is upon us. 63-70 years and then the human body dies. They call this phase the second childhood. I know heaps of people who will be looking forward to this phase, not the dead part, the childhood part. And the bonus is … according to Lievegoed, it’s very likely if a person consciously accepts it, the phase, they will be happier than a pig in mud!
Let’s consider this. 56-63 years. I’m grumbling already. The maturity of thought phase. This is the phase where everyone is ma-ture. I just know it will take me the whole seven years to reach that benchmark. Which leads me to ask like Lievegoed; how can we really define a mature person? Perhaps this phase does mean we now understand the difference between things like vanity and achievement, wisdom and stupidity, death and rebirth. Maybe for some people it is time to mature gracefully and for others it might be a time of uncertainty or anxious realisation.
It’s amazing how seven years can make all the difference. 49-56 years. It’s believed that this phase has people struggling with their own demise, I mean decline. According to the experts, people consciously say, ‘I’m getting old. Noooooooo.’ But fight it with ferocity. But I don’t necessarily think everyone would be thinking, time for a facelift, implants, personal trainer or anything that will make me feel YOUNGER! In Lievegoed’s book he suggests that perhaps an ageing boss might like to throw his or her authority around. ‘I’m not going anywhere yet so do as you’re told.’ Good luck with that.
If I believe the Greeks I’m in the phase 42-49 years, the manic-depressive period. Seriously, that sounds like a reference to a prehistoric time. ◔_◔ I don’t think I want to be in the manic-depressive period. Is this the phase where people have periods of doubt, everything is cloudy and we only have snippets of happiness? Really? I know there is huge potential to expand on this phase but I think it’s time to move on before I become manic … and depressive. 😉
When I went through this phase things had really changed in my life. 35-42 years. This is supposed to be the second puberty phase, or ♫ ‘every day I’m shuffling’ ♫ I guess this is the reshuffling of one’s life. While I relate to the reshuffling, physically I mean, moving house countless times. I’m guessing I didn’t have a chance to ask the right questions here. And apparently, in this phase people have trouble sleeping. This part I know happened to me! I think it’s because most people have too much stuff swirling around in our heads. So reorientation begins in this phase. We search for our true calling. I know for a fact phase reorientation was forced upon me, but I still don’t think I asked the right questions.
This brings us to 28-35 years. This is known, according to the Greeks, as the consolidating and confirming phase. Sounds like something out of a business journal. I think this might be about organisation and problem solving. It sounds all very business-like to me. I think perhaps some people will know what they can achieve and simply aim for those goals. But I have to wonder about the people who don’t have that self-assurance. What happens to them in this phase?
I’m struggling to remember this phase of my life; 21-28 years. It’s just a blur. No, not because I’m almost in the ma-ture phase and my memory is fading, because in this phase I had two children, one with ADHD and the other a toddler, and we were building our own home and I was working. Life for me was a blur of movement. So, 21-28 years is adulthood. Which pushes me to ask the questions like Lievegoed; how can we possibly know the exact hour, day, or week when this phase has been entered? Does it happen differently for each person? This phase is where people are discovering and some are trying really hard to control the basis of their life. Maybe for some, like me, it’s about finding a partner, feathering the nest and starting a family. I do remember this was a time when I read a lot of books on self-help, spirits, astrology, dreams, and visualisation.
Here comes the adolescence phase. 14-21 years. Lots of things can happen in this phase. I can only speak for myself here. No, I wasn’t a bad teenager, though my mother might disagree. I agree with Lievegoed’s reflection here. I do understand completely the sexual element that comes with this phase and the alluring pull of those taboos. And yes, desires are strong. Then there’s the protest against eating meat. I did that one. I think this phase is about learning who you are and where you fit into the world
This is the phase of imaginative life. 7-14 years. I believe this is the part of life where everything changes, not just biologically, but in everything. Ideas, attitudes and beliefs change. They certainly did for me. Here I agree with Lievegoed; for some children this can be an unfriendly time, but also a time of discovery. I was bullied through some of this phase of my life. But I muddled through, though; I wish I had told someone instead of suffering in silence. I do remember loneliness and perhaps at times being misunderstood.
Personally I think the next is the most important phase. Why? In my opinion, the beginning of life is so significant and so powerful, that nothing we do again will match the miracle of taking that first breath and filling those lungs with air. 0-7 years. This is the fantasy phase. I was definitely a child of fantasy. Some say that our western education stifles fantasy. I believe what Lievegoed states in his book:
“Artistically minded teaching, creative play and story-telling by parents all exercise the mobility of the mental faculties and nurture originality and spontaneity. …”
I certainly did my best to tell wonderful stories, paint and sing with my kids. Alas, we must remember, not every child will go through a perfect fantasy phase.
Well, there you have it. The Phases. Of course, the phases are much more complex and I have played with them here and there. But this has been fun.
Lievegoed, B (1976) Phases The Spiritual Rhythms in Adult Life. Rotterdam: Lemniscaat.