Table of Contents


My prime. Kids feel so alive because they're still growing, still developing. As long as I keep growing I have a certain shine, a liveliness about me. The question is, where did I stop developing? It's surprisingly easy to find out where someone stopped growing. Just ask what period of their life was their favorite. What do they look back on as their prime, their peak, the time of their life? For some it's childhood, for some high school or college, for others a love affair or that first real job out in the world. Whatever it is, that's where they got off the development train. I always thought of that in terms of decades: my teens twenties thirties etcetera. All along the way the current decade has always been my all-time favorite. I'm now in my seventies and the trend holds true: this is unequivocally my favorite decade so far.

Two kinds. There are two kinds of development: the basic physical, psychological and cultural development every normally developing human undergoes, and spiritual development based on aspiration: the desire for something better than the ordinary life I find myself living. Spiritual development isn't built in. It's not part of the natural process of maturation. The work required to make progress won't make life easier. It doesn't get me any outward benefits except I'll probably get healthier. Meditation does not bring inner peace, unless I'm taking a very long range view. The work required is often counterintuitive. It's impossible to find a good spiritual teacher. So the deck is stacked against spiritual development.

The enigma of surrender. Development that goes past normal maturation requires I surrender to a higher power. It's a long and arduous road and I need the best guidance I can get. But the only version of a higher power that works for me is my own version, the one I was born with. Anyone interested in surrender will find no shortage of volunteers to be the master or the master's earthly representative. Well-meaning or not they're all charlatans where I'm concerned, and they're an almost insurmountable obstacle to my own development. They remain insurmountable for an uncountable number of lifetimes.

There is no easy street. Resting on my laurels is the end of development, the end of liveliness and shine. To keep making progress I have to be willing to question everything. In particular I have to question everything that has worked before, or worked so far, because what I need next always involves something new, something that's different from everything so far. Easy street is the highway to hell, with hell being, at the very best, a miserable ease.

Nostalgia. If I'm still developing, still making progress I'm looking forward, not back. Preoccupation with nostalgia and the good old days is a sure sign I've stopped developing. Nostalgia is poisonous. The present is distorted by the past. Elizaveta takes it to extremes, nostalgia at its worst. She's an extraordinary storyteller, here working in my beloved 12/8 meter.

I went through a big spasm of nostalgia in 2020. My development had stalled, and here comes nostalgia, creeping up to get me. But I knew it wasn't right and I wrestled with it. I walked to places where nostalgia called out to me, places I used to go dance with my sweetheart. We broke up early that year. I gave myself desensitization therapy, and I reached out to people in the present the only way I could, on social media. Social media offer thin comfort, but it was just what I needed to see me over that hump, and it gave birth to these stories, a few of which originally appeared in an undeveloped form on my profile page. I shook off nostalgia, and my development is no longer stalled.