For the first time in about 4.6 years, Aven turned down a Second Breakfast. If you’ve ever been with our family over the course of the first four or five hours in the day, you may think that you had somehow entered a portal to Middle Earth. We are totally into double breakfasts, Elevensies, multiple snacks and, well, you get the idea. But today a second piece of toast was simply not to be. However, once First Snack rolled through, Aven of the Shire wolfed down his share of grub. Phew, thought we’d lost him there for a bit.
The idea of Growth has been on my mind over the last while. I’ve mulled it over in my own thoughts, brewed up conversation around the fire pit with my good friend Jesse, discussed it over dinner, and now it must be an official preoccupation since I’m blogging on it. These past two weeks it’s been particularly on my mind for numerous reasons. For one, it’s hard not to think about growth when you are feeding two growing boys and watching them daily reach skyward. Our measuring ruler is literally in the center of our great room so the notch marks of time are hard to miss. But even beyond the constant reminder of parenting, teaching, and measuring my kids, Growth is all around. And sometimes, I’d argue, we’re practising the wrong kind.
No, I’m not going to attempt a stunting experiment on Kai. Although, sometimes I’d like him at seven for a bit longer.
For the past 600 years or so, Our modern world has been obsessed with growth. Expanding empires, soaring stock markets, huge houses… we can’t seem to grow enough. To be static is failure. A business posts a level line on the line graph in the big meeting and heads roll. The stock market balks for a week and we border panic. The demand for milk or oil goes down and a CEO has to sell a yacht; hundreds lose their jobs.
Why? And who? And what?
Why does this matter? Who is being forced to drink all that extra milk? What is happening to us?
I just read a book about the lack of nutrients in our food and how it takes more of the empty calories to feed us since the nutrient-rich meat and veggies are in scarce supply. It’s why our caloric intake is suggested to be between 2500-3000 instead of the 1500-2000 of generations past. Many families have three cars to put gas in. And I can’t even keep up with the average house size. Growth, right?
Ok, I’ll stop ranting and get into a more positive side to this. I think if we take a step back, we can see that all the growth I just went off about is potentially harmful and somewhat meaningless. The old cliche “stuff doesn’t bring happiness” is pretty worn out. There is, however, a good kind of Growth: in fact there’s lots of it. Your kids should grow, otherwise you might need to see someone about that. Your savings should grow, the fulfillment in your work and passions should grow. The love for your spouse, your friends, your kids; this is good Growth.
And you. You should grow.
This past weekend, two Growth things happened: one involved baking bread, the other involved a deep friendship.
I’ve been baking sourdough for almost three years. In that time frame, the bread has gone through about, oh I dunno, a thousand different textures and shapes. And still, after all the loafs I’ve baked I still somewhat nervously check that those little dough balls pop up in the oven. See, I can do all the right things outside the oven: the mixing, proofing, shaping… even setting the temp perfectly. But the oven makes those mounds grow. And sometimes, they simply don’t. And it sucks. I question everything I did. I rehash in my mind all my steps, but sometimes they just won’t grow.
Two days ago however, they were Just. So. Perfect.
I’ve got some friends going through a tough time right now. The oven they’re in is hot and it’s threatening relationships that extend deep. One in particular is on an extensive inward journey where I know the heat of the oven is forcing some really good Growth. And by the time these friends are pulled from the oven, they will be perfect and at just the right spot they need to be in on the journey. Hard, but good Growth.
Sometimes it takes good preparation, other times it takes some heat, mostly it just takes us getting up in the morning and looking for space in our life we can grow. Got a hobby you want to push to the next level in? Want to expand your career opportunities? Need to go deeper or even repair a relationship? Do it. Grow. Don’t buy something or scope out your next McMansion. Really grow. Focus on the good stuff. Focus on you and those around you. That’s the good life right there.