Let me first of all apologize to all high school physics teachers for my paraphrasing of Sir Isaac Newton's first law of motion, that a body at rest tends to remain at rest and a body in motion tends to remain in motion unless acted upon by another force. Sir Isaac's pronouncement set the mechanical world in motion and it hasn't looked back since, thereby helping to make his point.
Newton's law applies not only to inanimate objects but to ourselves as well. Consider that a person at rest tends to stay at rest, and a person in motion tends to stay in motion. These behaviors, rest and motion, are learned behaviors. If we teach ourselves or are taught to lead an active motion filled lifestyle, we will tend to continue to be in motion much of our lives. If we learn to be sedentary and restful as a way of being, then we will tend to continue to remain at rest for much of our lives. That is unless we are acted on by another force. Rest and motion are not limited to physical states, resting and staying in motion, but perhaps even more relevant, mental and emotional states. If we rest mentally, there is no motion, no growth. The same can be said for emotional growth.
Much of our emotional and intellectual 'resting' state is learned behavior. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in his Gulag Archipelago tells of the zek, the prisoner, who observes an ant in a tea cup. The ant tries to make his way up the side of the tea cup only to be pushed gently down to the bottom by the zek. After repeated failures, 182 failures to be exact, the ant quits and remains at the bottom of the tea cup. He has tended to remain at rest and will never find his way out of the tea cup. The ant has learned not to try. Oddly enough, the next try might have been the one where the zek fails to act and lets the ant out of the tea cup. Similarly, our 'active' state can be a learned behavior and the action of the zek can be like a force acting upon us. We can try again or give up, both are learned behaviors. If we give up, we know the outcome.
The forces that act upon us might be a job loss, relationship loss, or something as simple as trying on a pair of jeans. As my cousin reminds me, 'my genes are why I can't fit into my jeans.' So if we let it, that simple statement can be the force that acts on us to begin and to tend to remain in motion. It is our choice. Growth is a natural state of humans. We are born quite small and helpless. However, it seems that we are born smart, programmed to grow and learn in every way. We learn what we have been given an opportunity to learn as young children. We learn to crawl, to walk, to run. We fall down, laugh, sometimes cry, and get up and run again. We learn to speak, to communicate and so on. Our learning curve is steep, we learn a lot and quickly. As children we are sponges absorbing everything around us, growing and learning as we go.
So what happens next? Well, we tend to believe what others tell us about ourselves, that we have limitations, that we can't do that, we can't sing or dance, or we will fail if we try what ever we might want to try. Compare that to a child who in a single day is a Superhero, their favorite animal, a character from a movie, or some other creature of their own making, sometimes all at the same time. They sing, they laugh, they dance, they imagine, they play, they help, they learn and they grow. The notion of us as a Superhero would be laughable to our peers, because as an adult, we have learned not to think that way. And why not?
Why can't you be a Superhero? We may not be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound like Superman but we can have super powers also. We can be perceptive, we can learn, we can grow, we can be better today than we were yesterday. We can improve. In that way, we are better than any Superhero could ever hope to be. They are already as good as they will ever be. Their best days are not ahead. They will never improve, and, as even they know, they are not perfect or invincible. We can continue to get better everyday in whatever way we apply ourselves. Our best days are ahead of us, if we want them to be. Everyday can be better than the last.
However, we must take heed from our friend Sir Isaac. A body at rest tends to stay at rest, a body in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by another force. Unlike inanimate objects that have to be acted on by an outside force in order to change, we can provide that force by ourselves because we have the power of choice. We can choose to be the force that causes us to begin and remain in motion if we take the next step.