There are several key stages in our lives. If you are an American living today you can categorize this by how old you are vs. what your life activity focus is. Let me try to explain…
First we are infants, then toddlers; generally we don’t have a memory of this, although how we are treated may effect us. Then we are kids. We have fleeting memories of this time. We may remember something we got for a birthday or Christmas. We may remember something we did, good or bad, and our reward or our punishment. Then we are adolescents. Now we are making decisions for ourselves. We may keep a secret that no one else knows. We start to shape how we will react to others and anticipate how others will react to us. I think the goal in this stage is to prepare for being a young adult. Once we are a young adult we are in command of our lives, but usually this means just our own life.
Then we graduate. We become adults. We start to care for another. That may mean mentally, physically or spiritually. We have relationships outside the families we came from and the friendships we have; this may mean something like starting a family. Family could just mean a spouse. In fact we yearn for creation. We want to be responsible for children, along with our spouse. Instead of being part of the team, we are the co-captains, the managers, the CEOs of not only our own destiny but the destiny of our children.
Then we become old men and old women. In my case I’ve become an old man. Our daughter left for college last Fall. Yes, she’s still dependant upon us for support, but after a short visit with her, I’ve realized that she’s become a young adult. She’s a complete individual. What she does is her own business. I can no longer care for her every need. Although I don’t think she will run off and get married anytime soon, she is well on her way to being an full fledged adult. That’s why I’m an old man. We still have a very spirited 3 year old that will keep me young, but really, I’m an old man.