Growth and Decay

By Krystal Zellmer

Have you ever just hoped that your life would become normal? That your world would be stable? Have you heard the story of Socrates and Plato? If not, here is an overview:

Socrates taught Plato that everything fits into one of three stages. Everything begins at a point of energy from which it expands or grows. This is followed by a period where nothing changes, and finally, it shrinks back to the original point of energy where it began. The first stage is growth, the second is stability and the third is decay.

Plato listened politely and then went off by himself to mull over what he had just heard. Walking along the beach, Plato picked up a piece of driftwood to examine it. He concluded that there aren’t three stages in life; there are only two. Plato believed that everything is either growing or decaying and that there is no such thing as stability. The piece of wood was undergoing a slow decay on the beach, but he could speed that up by burning it. He could slow it down by shielding it from the elements. No, there is no such thing as stability. Everything is either in slow growth, fast growth, slow decay or fast decay.

So if stability doesn’t exist, what would you want for your marriage or your family? If everything is in growth or decay, could the illusion of stability mean the slow erosion of those things that you love most? How do you keep yourself on the growth side of this cycle?

Recognize which state you are in. In order to change your position you have to first know where you are. If you have classified yourself in decay you can ask the question, “How do start my slow growth?” If you are in slow growth you can ask, “How do I get myself in fast growth?”

How do you view change? Do you grasp for the past? Or do you look for the possibility in the midst of the experience? Your view on change will directly relate to where you are in the growth and decay cycle. For more on this subject read Chapter Seven of Brian Klemmer’s When Good Intentions Run Smack into Reality.