Maturity is the ability to love even when it is inconvenient.
As children, our capacity for love is directly tied to our needs and desires. We love those who care for us, who nurture us, and who feed, clothe, and play with us. When our needs or desires are threatened, we amplify or withdraw our affection in an attempt, whether conscious or unconscious, to manipulate our elders, siblings, or peers into giving us the things we want.
This is not mature behavior, however. In fact, using emotional leverage as a tool for getting what we want or avoiding what we do not want is the essence of childishness. As children, we lack the cognitive, emotional, and verbal skills necessary to express our needs and wants clearly, intelligently, and rationally, but, ideally, as we get older, we are taught both explicitly and implicitly by our elders, siblings, and peers that emotional manipulation is not only immature, but is also unacceptable.
Maturity is measured in our ability to love consistently and unwaveringly, regardless of whether or not we get what we think we want or need from the object of our affection. If we are emotionally mature, our love is not selfish, is not conditional upon reciprocation, and is not tied to behavior, convenience, or personal benefit, but is, instead, the deep, sincere, and consistent desire for those we care about to have what is best for them, even when it is not directly beneficial to us.
If we are honest with ourselves, however, we know that emotional maturity is both a process and even a transient state, but we also know that it is an ideal worth striving for.
Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.
Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
All photos by Robert Van Valkenburgh unless otherwise noted.
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