We are all making up stories all day long to make our reality make sense. It works most of the time, because we are immersed in a physical reality that gives instant feedback. When we make a mistake our physical reality tells us right away. Whatever we just did that didn’t work out as planned, and whacked us hard enough, we changed our internal story to avoid repeating the painful events. Most of these hard knocks come early in life, so by age seven or so we stop acquiring scars.
I still have some scars from those early years. The one on the point of my chin I don’t remember acquiring, but in the intro to the TV series The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt we see her, as a toddler, falling down and probably acquiring a similar scar on her chin. I have a scar on my right palm that I got when my uncle Charles pushed me playfully, and I fell on a shard of broken glass. I have another on my knuckles where I held my hands under the back of the teeter totter when the kid jumped off the other end, and I came down on my hand. I got another on my forehead when I veered my scooter off an embankment, and a couple of knife cuts on my hands. It would seem I was a slow learner, and yet I can’t find any scars after those years of my early childhood, so apparently I did learn.
Perhaps psychological reality has similar scars that were acquired in childhood, and I suspect most of those were formed before adolescence, about age fourteen.
I thought there was a multiple of seven years that was built into our US Constitution. No legal responsibilities before the age of seven, some basic responsibilities between seven and fourteen, but no legally binding contracts until age twenty-one, when a male could vote. At age twenty-eight a person can become a congressman, at age thirty-five a senator, and at forty-two president.
That progression probably has some reasonable qualities to it, and I suspect that it represents the growth of a more life-sustaining relationship with one’s real-world surroundings. Those Constitutional laws represented the idea that maturity comes at a price of hard knocks. Until we have some real-world experience, and learn to observe other people’s problems and the personal foresight to avoid them, we shouldn’t be given responsibilities we can’t handle.
Real-world wisdom always seems to come back to foresight, and to live better means looking into the future, to see opportunities and avoid problems.