Archive for the 'adolescence' Category

Perilous adolescence

September 1, 2013

I met a social worker at Dana Farber years ago who had adolescent sons.  And he shared that he thought parents’ task is, at least in part, sort of like damage control until the kids emerge from this period of development, so that the kids will have as many options as possible.

I am thinking about humanity in general this way, as we try to deal with issues like climate change and chemical weapons use.

I think it will be a while until there is a critical mass of people who look at life in a more helpful way than most of us currently do.  I think where religious leaders often go wrong is assuming there is a shortcut from here to there.  A lot of spiritual development is rooted in the experience of life with an open mind and an open heart.  Hiring a substitute or avoiding the experiences or trying to have them vicariously through learning about them as ideas just keeps us stuck in earlier stages.  I see (over-)intellectualizing as an excuse, something that masks a much more profound wound that needs healing.

Horace Mann

April 2, 2013

I read the article by Marc Fisher in a recent issue of The New Yorker about a teacher named Robert Berman who taught at Horace Mann, and the issues of teacher-student sexual relations in the context of high school.

To me it was more illuminating about a whole dynamic than being about “he said/he said” controversies about sexual abuse.

Here’s a quotation from near the end of the article that sums up what I found so interesting:  “According to the studies, abusers are disproportionately teachers who have won awards for excellence; they groom their targets, often selecting students who are estranged from their parents and unsure of themselves, then inviting them to get extra help in private sessions. This means, of course, that it can be very difficult to distinguish a superlative teacher from an abuser. ”

I wondered how often the pattern occurs in slightly different contexts, with or without overt sexual behavior, including those involving mentors and their young adult protégés, and whether it could explain some of the seemingly blind loyalty of acolytes to charismatic leaders in their field, even after the younger partners move out into careers of their own.

I guess my assumption had been that even with participating in this sort of incubation period, a person will eventually burst out of the cocoon and become an independent thinker and their own person.  But maybe some people can’t and never do.

Yearning

October 6, 2011

I remember reading C.S. Lewis’s description of the yearning he felt when he connected with God, through nordic mythology, I think it was (I don’t guarantee I’m recollecting this accurately, my interest is in the yearning feeling, not the supporting details, so if someone is interested in the details, they should check them out themselves), and I was so surprised by how he precessed his experience.  Because years before I had had one of those connection experiences, and for me it came as hopefulness and optimism and a sense of buoyancy, followed by huge yearning.  But this yearning felt to me exactly like the yearning I had felt as a teenager, and I associated it with unrequited teenage romantic love.  It brought me back to my adolescence, re-listening to the music I had listened to then and writing poetry as I had again, but that yearning part I didn’t associate directly with a relationship with the divine.  I did end up a couple of years later with some sort of spiritual reunion, so maybe the yearning was for the divine after all and I didn’t realize it.  But for me at the time it seemed to be all about unrequited romantic teenage love, it seemed to be a by-product of the primary experience of connection (not the primary experience of connection itself), and it seemed as if I was being transported back to an earlier time in my life.  The poetry I wrote had all kind of bits and pieces of things that felt like vivid memories but not of anything actually from my own life.  And between that experience of connection and the joy of reunion, I had what might be called an interesting spiritual life; what born-again Christians describe has similar features, but I interpreted them very differently, and it led to what folks of some other spiritual persuasions refer to as going through a journey of revisiting past lives, but again, I processed the experience somewhat differently (it felt more like people were sharing with me their lives and I was being given an opportunity to try them on, like the way girls sometimes try on each others’ clothes; in my case, I felt I was also being given an opportunity to mend, darn, and reweave parts of those lives).

Now, I am aware that all this spiritual life stuff comes across to some people as most similar to psychosis, or at least delusions on a smaller scale.  And the whole process has led me to a perspective on our material world and its pursuits that is more questioning of the usual perspective with which we view them.  So, I do have the sense of having left the mainstream and joined some fringe point of view, but, on the other hand, I try my best to remain connected to the mainstream world, as I stumble my way through it.  I guess I would close, by way of making whatever point this recounting can lead to, that maybe there are multiple ways of perceiving the world, like the different kinds of telescopes that exist, looking at the universe with different parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, and that we should respect other people’s perspectives (instead of trying to disabuse them of them), and consider how these multiple perspectives might relate to one another and fit together as parts of a whole.