written in 2014
Confucius said, “At fifteen, I had my mind bent on learning. At thirty, I stood firm. At forty, I had no doubts. At fifty, I knew the decrees of Heaven. At sixty, my ear was an obedient organ for the reception of truth. At seventy, I could follow what my heart desired, without transgressing what was right.” <<Analects, Wei Zheng>>
“….At thirty, I stood firm…”
“What does that supposed to mean?” I asked myself one night while staring blankly at the ceiling over my bed.
Thirty to me is a series of readjustment and repositioning: I finished a long-term relationship (quite dramatically) about six months before turning thirty, re-learnt how to live as a single, moved back to live with my parents, made new friends, found a new job, and re-examined my life.
Wow, so, here I am: being 30, the “thirty” in “At thirty, I stood firm(ly)….”
I have always been a big fan of Confucius’ teachings, and, all of a sudden, I want to know what that Confucius saying means!
If you try to search the saying “At thirty, I stood firm” in Chinese on the internet, the popular definition is “knowing your position at age thirty.”
The word “position” can have many different meanings in Chinese when one refers to it as the “position of self.” For example, your life goal, who you want to become, personal philosophy/ethics, your way of doing things, etc. In other words, “stood firmly (in life)” points more to being independent at heart and having strength in your soul.
There is a good explanation on the internet,
“Standing firmly at thirty means standing firmly internally; being independent at heart; focusing your study on learning about yourself; building confidence; learning not to fight against external things, but learn how to get along or ‘blend’ with them. You should no longer talk about conquering ‘the mountains’ (or goals) but, instead, should talk about how the mountains (or the ‘impossibles’) help you become a better person; you should stop talking about stepping over someone or something but elevating yourself to their heights.
Standing firmly at thirty is not about being successful (like having a house or a great job) but about being independent (mentally); it is about if you can self-reflect and be gracefully at ease, have confidence in the things you do, and reconcile with your standards.”
I don’t know if there are people like me who are on a similar path following this philosophy. But, I have to admit: I like this philosophy a lot.
Happy 30, everyone.