Don't ask why I've decided to open this blog back up, I just did. Roll with it.
Today I was thinking about maturity. What does it really mean to be mature? What's going on in the mind? How does one go from immaturity to maturity?
I think maturity is a function of self-image. Those people who we classify as mature are those who identity themselves as having "mature" attributes and being a part of the "mature" social stratum. What's classified as "mature" changes by society, by age, and by domain, but I think there are some common features we would find across all conditions: an acceptance of certain truths and corresponding responsibilities. The acceptance of these responsibilities also requires that the person surrender a part of his hedonism, and the part of his identity that is invested in that hedonism.
For example, when it comes to working in the US, we tend to think of mature as accepting that life requires that we work and that we have to compromise our leisure time to accomplish this work. A person who thinks of himself, i.e., identifies himself, as a person who accepts these truths and fulfills these responsibilities is a person who has achieved maturity in that area. He must surrender a part of his hedonistic lifestyle that urges him to do whatever he feels like.
We can use the same paradigm to understand maturity in relationships, in spirituality, and even in education: the lover accepts that he wants to have a family, needs in invest in a single person, and give up his philandering. The spiritualist must accept that he is part of a greater system, accept his duty to help others, and surrender his selfish drives. The student needs to accept that grades are important, to begin studying, and to surrender trying to be cool at the expense of his education.
Thus, maturity is really a process of acceptance, surrender, and the formation of a new identity. Ceremonies like marriage, bar mitzvah, accepting vows, etc. are so important because they help cement that new identity. They give the initiate an opportunity to swap identities and create a "historical bookmark" to remind the initiate who he is now. All very interesting stuff.