Foliage of a Ginkgo Biloba tree

What we have to fall back on

If the grounding created in youth is something we have to fall back on in later life, what kinds of foundations are we laying? This idea that, at various points over our lifetime, we won’t have chance to “think” and what’s normally beneath our active awareness will be what rises to the surface. As if, underneath our more deliberate actions, there lies all this subconscious training or instinctive muscle-memory.

Like falling, when you’ve no time to plan a reaction and all that’s available is whatever your body knows to do without thinking. All this basic functionality or wisdom that was probably last used, needed or relied upon in childhood – that time we actively explored reality and developed all these abilities we’ve been using since then without ever really having to think about them.

Almost as if youth’s the time for laying down these habitual grooves which can then tether us into healthy patterns over the years. All those fundamental lessons that get etched deep in our understanding as the way to be: how to move, how to act, how to relate to the physical and social world surrounding us. This base level of familiarity and capability that then underpins all we might later pile on top of it.

Which patterns are we learning, though? What’s actually going into this physical, psychological or social foundation that, presumably, forms part of our general well-being and confidence in life? How much of what we experience is forging a steady basis for existence, rather than a lurching or erratic test of our balance? These, of course, are open questions, as who’s to really say what’s finding its way within our subconscious.

It just seems interesting to consider how much is tucked away there; either imparting its strength or draining our own. And, how many useful capacities might actually be waiting there for us later, when we need them. It’s fascinating to imagine how much youth – and, education – helps prepare us in ways we might never realise; that perennial wisdom might be laid down there for us to pick up down the line.

Sometimes, though, it seems youth’s increasingly a place filled with programs and agendas. And how will all those threads combine within the overarching picture of what’s being created? This sense in which we’re essentially weaving together some immensely valuable backdrop for each individual and each society into which our lives will form a part. Perhaps, though, it’s impossible to say what will come of all this.

Hopefully we’re offered things to help us deal creatively and practically with “life” – solid foundations with an overall sense of wisdom that lets us see reality with flexible enough ideas to match its unpredictable complexity. Emerging with a realistic sense of ourselves, our capabilities and the nature of this world around us. Not swamped by fear but ready to engage constructively with the many challenges ahead of us.

This idea of how we might best go about preparing humans for life seems so far-reaching to contemplate.

Notes and References:

Learning all we need to know
Everything’s interconnected
What are we primed for?
Knowledge, capacity & understanding
Passing on what’s important

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