Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one’s potential. ~ Bruce Lee
This is a picture of me, taken shortly after being born. As you can see, I was born with quite a lot of hair!
I’ve been thinking a lot about why people choose to have kids, or conversely, why some may choose not to have kids. I’m in my mid-thirties and I’m still not entirely certain as to whether or not I’ll ever choose to bring another life into this world. Currently I’m leaning towards remaining child-free. However, living in a world that largely revolves around the cultivation of meaning and purpose from a lifetime investment in one’s creation of or participation in a nuclear family unit, it’s sometimes hard to ignore the possibility of such a path.
If I ever decide to have a kid, I want my decision to be made with certainty and enthusiasm — a definitive, “Hell YES!” vs. a wishy-washy, “Welll…. I’m going on 40 and still haven’t procreated… so maayybe I should have a baby before it’s too late.” Or vs: “I better start a family so I’ll have someone to take care of me when I’m old.”
Thanks… but No Thanks!
Aren’t those kind of messed up reasons to have a kid? Think about it.
If one of your main reason to create a family is to ensure you’ll have someone to take care of you when you’re elderly, isn’t that essentially akin to birthing your child into an eventual form of expected and indentured servitude? Isn’t that a lot of expectation and obligation to put onto someone, especially before they’ve even been born?
Anyway, I digress… this article isn’t meant to be about my personal frustrations with societal norms and expectations when in comes to child and family rearing. Rather, this article is meant to serve as a reminder that each and every one of us started out as a baby.
We were all born.
And, eventually, we will die.
Each and every one of us.
This isn’t meant to sound depressing. In fact, it’s meant to be just the opposite.
Infinite Potential vs Expected Norms
A baby isn’t just a baby. A baby merely represents the early stages of a human’s entire lifetime which will be filled with lessons and learning, growth, goals, desires, failures, successes, and achievements. All stories have a beginning, middle, and end. Babies represent the beginning – i.e. the part of the (human) story that we tend to associate with the most potential, and therefore, the most hope.
Before you know it, a baby progresses to an infant, then toddler, pre-schooler, school-aged kiddo, pre-teen, teenager, high schooler, and eventually/hopefully… a high school graduate.
And then… adulthood! (Gasp!)
Of course, the list doesn’t stop there. After high school, many will choose to go on to college or university, and perhaps even continue on to obtain a Masters or a PhD. Some might choose to pursue a career via a stable job in a chosen and well-respected and established profession. Some might choose to marry. Some might choose to have a child or children of their own, perpetuating this cycle that seems pertinent to human growth and development.
The pattern tends to be, or so I have observed, that once we have gone through the common levels or major steps of education, we tend stop growing and learning. Not altogether, of course, as learning and growth are ongoing, intrinsic and inherent aspects of the human experience.
The above said, I’ve noticed that when we stop actively learning and pursuing knowledge, it generally seems the next step we humans tend towards is to “settle down” and become complacent in many ways in order to carve out the space and energy to start a family — to take personal participation in the cyclical pattern of human evolution and development that we have experienced up until now.
If, however, you’ve decided not to participate (or at least hold off participation) in the genetic procreation of the human species… then what?
What am I supposed to do with my life?
What am I supposed to achieve? What should I aim to accomplish? And while we’re at it, What’s the purpose of meaning of life, anyway?
Those are pretty big questions… aren’t they?
I think one of the reasons many people choose to have kids – aside from social conditioning, tradition, and learned values – is because you might not be sure what else you’re supposed to do with your life. It’s sort of expected and taken for granted… isn’t it? And if and when you start to ask yourself these big questions, one of the easiest and simplest answers you come up with might be … to live and love. To have kids and perpetuate what we think of as family.
Tied into all this, I think that we may also naturally want to experience that amazing period of wonder and condensed growth all over again… but vicariously, through our offspring. I’d imagine there’s nothing that seems quite as miraculous as the growth and development of a baby into a fully grown, intelligent and conscious human being.
Furthermore, we can look at humanity as a whole as still being in its relative infancy. And of course, there’s the notion that the entirety of humanity is one big family. What is your deepest hope and desire for humanity to achieve and experience as a species as it continues to grow and develop?
Babies vs Grown Ups
The trouble with the term ‘grown up’ is that it implies there’s no growing left to do… you’re already all grown up!
What if we stopped thinking of ourselves as grown ups or adults once we actually become adults? What if we were to realize that, in a way, we’re still that same being that was a baby?
What if we put our focus on the fact that there are still soooo many ways for us to keep on learning and growing well beyond and into our adult years, even throughout our entire lives?
What if you take on the role of parent for yourself vs that of another being you created (or that created you), in part, from your own (or their own) DNA?
As a parent, caregiver, or guardian over another, you would naturally want and desire the very best for your child. You would want them to be happy. You would want them to learn and grow, to fulfill their potential to the very best of their abilities. You might even want them to attain some level of achievement, recognition, and success. We generally want for others what we want for ourselves, which is the very best.
Here’s a creative project I’d like to try. Maybe you’d like to try it too. I’m calling it…
The Baby / Human Project: A New Way To Look At Personal Development
The first step is to consciously and fully realize that you started off as a baby. Even though I’m a fully grown adult and have been for some while, I recognize that I’m still learning and growing — or at least have that potential.
The second step is to find a picture of yourself as a baby. The younger, the better. That’s why I’ve chosen my baby picture as a new born.
With the baby picture in hand, study it carefully. Look at the baby’s eyes, facial expression, and physical features. Can you tell that this is you? When I look at my baby picture I can easily recognize that this baby was/is, in fact, me. I can see certain facial characteristics that I still share with that baby. It’s amazing to think that that’s how I started out and that I still share some of the features as my new-born self. If you are doing this too, I encourage you to identify as much with that baby in the picture as possible.
The next step is sort of an opposite to the previous. Now imagine that the baby in the picture is not you at all. You can imagine that the baby in the picture is a baby that exists now in the present instead of a baby from the past. Imagine that baby has not grown up yet and is still full of so much potential. Imagine the wonders that baby might one day experience. Imagine that baby is actually your own child. You might even project your own hopes and dreams onto that child… what is it that you’ve always wanted to do yet never achieved?
…Isn’t that what many parents tend to do? Project their own hopes and dreams onto the future of their child? Whether projecting your hopes and dreams onto your children is something positive or negative is a whole other can of worms. But in any case, don’t worry about doing so in this situation, as projecting your hopes and dreams onto the baby in the photograph is perfectly fine and good!
What do you feel or observe as a result of following these steps? For myself, I observe that I tend to project a very strong, almost overwhelming and unconditional love for the baby in my photograph. I imagine this is what many parents might feel towards their own children. And, connected to this deep sense of love, I notice myself wishing and wanting all the best for that baby in the photograph — I want her to grow up to pursue her dreams, attain great success and achievement, and experience a life filled with love and happiness, all while treating herself with loving kindness absent from any harshness directed towards herself, in addition to compassion and patience for any of her so-called flaws.
The next step in this project or experiment is to re-associate that baby in the picture with your present-day self. See yourself as that baby, and perhaps even vice versa as well. But most importantly, carry that deep sense of unconditional love forward with you, such that you find yourself experiencing a very deep sense of caring and love for, ultimately, yourself. Carry that sense of hope and recognition of infinite potential forward with you to your present-day self. Really feel it and let yourself feel all warm, fuzzy, and excited about the future that lies in store for you.
It’s quite possible that following these steps may lead you to experience a deeper sense of unconditional love for yourself than you’ve ever experienced before.
Again… Now What?
You may be thinking… “Okay, Okay. I get it. I love myself. I see that, in a sense, I’m still a baby. I’m still learning and growing. I can still achieve my dreams if I want to. That’s all fine and good. But now what? What’s the overall point?”
Just like any other aspect of life, that’s really up to you.
As an extension and application of this project, what I’d like to recommend is a (minimum) 30-day trial of practicing the steps I described above.
A 30-Day Experimental Project
Each day, preferably sometime in the morning, take a moment to go through the steps of disassociating and then reassociating the baby in your picture with your present-day self. Feel that deep sense of love for that baby and then for yourself. Get excited at the profound potential for the future of that baby, and then also for yourself.
Then see where it takes you.
This new way of looking at, thinking of, and loving yourself might very well fuel you to thrust forward in making tremendous progress in your own hopes and dreams for yourself and your own personal development.
I’m going to take on this 30-day trial for myself. I’m not quite sure what kind of progress I’ll make, but I have a feeling that I’ll make exponential progress towards my various personal projects and goals compared to the progress I have made over the past year, or even, years.
I guess time will tell!
I shall report back after the next 30-days and share my progress and findings.
If you also decide to take part in this baby/human experimental project, please feel free to share your personal results and findings as well! You can share by leaving a comment.
Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do. ~ Pope John XXIII
The will to win, the desire to succeed, the urge to reach your full potential… these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence. ~ Confucius