I’ve always loved the symbolism of wings. To me, there are many attributes of spreading wings that have analogies in our lives. Starting with making the transition from dependent children to independent people. As children grow up, they spread their wings a little more each time they have a new experience. Unlike birds, however, we humans don’t leave the nest in one dramatic leap of faith, but in many little ones throughout our lives.
Still, wings and flight have always held a special place for many people. Our desire to fly, literally and figuratively, is ingrained in the human experience and highlights our adventurous spirit. Our adventures can be literal forays into the unexplored, or they can be adventures within ourselves as we spread our wings internally and take flight to explore our personal landscapes. But we all need to understand how and when to spread our wings and fly toward the lives we are meant to live.
We’re being advised to stay away from everyone on the planet—everyone except those we live with. We have to spend time with them. We have to spend literally all of our time with them. How can we do this without driving each other nuts?
Living in close quarters in stressful situations is especially challenging. Many of us are faced with new and unfamiliar challenges, such as homeschooling children, working remotely, or making less money. While facing these challenges we are also deprived of many of the outlets for pressure that we have always been able to count on in the past—spending time with friends, going out on the town, or spending the afternoon at a ball game. Spending all of our time in what amounts to a bunker means figuring out how to get along. It means being extremely specific and intentional about what bothers us and how to resolve those irritations without impacting those around us. It means getting to know ourselves in this new reality.
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Hmm . . . How unfortunate for the dog.This adage implies that as we become older, we become more set in our ways. We become less inclined to learn new things. And we become less likely to put ourselves in the position of being the “student.”Is it because we know more than most people? Is it because we’re afraid of things we might not be able to understand?Or is it because maybe we’re just a little bit arrogant? We think because we’re older that we’re wiser.It is true that as people get older, they pick up life experiences and learn a lot about many things. But it is also true that there will always be things that we can learn, even about those things we know very well.
Our personal history is a rich source of experiences that we can learn from and that can help us live a healthy and meaningful life. We can draw on our past experiences when we face challenges, enter unknown territory, or have a difficult decision to make. We shouldn’t live in the past, but we shouldn’t ignore it, either. The past can help us predict the outcomes of our actions and help guide us in achieving our goals.