My youngest son was experiencing heel pain the other day. He was not injured and had trouble understanding why it should hurt when nothing was wrong. I explained that these were probably growing pains and that I had the same symptoms when I was his age.
What is a growing pain? When our bodies stretch beyond their former limits, ligaments, bones, and muscles are placed in new configurations. In the end, we have more strength and more stature, but during the change, our bodies object to the stress of growth. We have to hurt to grow.
Some people are just fine ignoring the demands of life. They are content to stay the way they are. Life has other ideas, though. Life demands that we change to accommodate new circumstances. We either venture into the unknown by choice or the unknown chases us down. These pathetic and timid souls hide behind dime store novels and situation comedies on TV. Life finds them looking blankly at the latest distraction, oblivious to the fact that Death is on its way.
Other people hate life because of what it demands. A former friend of mine once said, “I’d sit around the house all day if someone paid me. And don’t lie. You would too.” No, I wouldn’t, and it took me years to understand that he really meant it. Having made up his mind in his teens that the world owed him that, he became bitter, cynical, and contemptuous of all who prospered. The attitude that was at least forgivable as a teen became a cancer of indignance in his later years. It may not have killed his body yet, but it has savaged his soul, all because he would not face the pain of growth.
Our businesses, jobs, and lives are the same way. We get into rhythms and routines that are comfortable. We slide into our daily existence with little thought of inflicting growing pains on ourselves. That, or we cultivate contempt for the successful. Bitterness is a sweet kind of pain, one that allows us to envy the rewards other receive and ignore the pain they endured to earn them.
As teenagers, nature imposes growth upon us. As adults, the option is ours. Let us always remember to hurt enough to grow and grow enough to live.