By: Annie Sragner, Associate Arts and Life Editor
Our perspectives and experiences change drastically between the time we are born and the time we pass away.
Even in utero, numerous people anticipate our messy arrival and fantasize about our future possibilities. Newborn babies are an exciting concept because their whole lives are just beginning.
As we grow and learn, we gain independence. We learn about how our environment operates and we become familiar with the demands of life, like turning in homework on time, being courteous in public, looking both ways before crossing the street, that sort of thing. We gain the ability to do more things on our own, which allows our parents and society to loosen their grip and let us make our own choices.
As time progresses a little more, some people may have kids and gain steady careers. Some may travel and learn more about what it means to be an adult in society. Most people have become totally independent by this point.
As more years pass, we tread into elderly age. Loved ones pass away and family members grow up. Mobility may become a struggle and energy is not what is used to be. We increasingly begin to depend on others toward the end of our lives.
Many think independence grows steadily over time, but it varies based on circumstances and abilities. Independence is so highly valued in American culture that we have a whole holiday devoted to it. Part of ‘The American Dream’ is to build your life from the ground up on your own. Independence comes with the freedom to do whatever you want, but there is less consideration for those struggling to get there.
Other cultures have different priorities. In many eastern countries, the elderly are praised for their wisdom. When independence begins to exhaust with old age, most are welcomed to live with family members for the remainder of their lives. Togetherness is valued over independence.
Every person in the world is guaranteed to experience the entrance into life and the exit out of it. The contrast between the processes of growing up and growing old is glaring among cultures. Growing old is a privilege that many unfortunately do not experience, and we should consider how we honor that privilege in our culture.