MATURITY: that stage of a life cycle characterised by the onset of selective shrivelling

For many entities, maturity is the pause after the constructive development phase before the contractions of disintegration begin. It is not a final state of sophisticated is often supposed...but is an ephemeral middle condition of existence between a beginning and an end. Fruits form, mature and shrivel. Leaves age, transmute in colour, detach and fall. Stems desiccate and crumble. Thus for a garden and the plants contained within, it is the stage of flowering and ripeness after the preparations of weeding and planting and before the withering desiccation. For certain insects, it is a brief fueled-up one-shot attempt at propagation, between an elongated phase of consumption and an indecently abrupt annihilation. For businesses, organizations, political parties and clubs, it is the period of purposeful accomplishment which follows the intense exertion of social establishment, and which precedes the fragmentation of egoistic dysfunction. For humans, it is that transient phase between naivité and decrepitude.

The development process of many entities normally consists of an interconnected complexity of structures, each of which evolves to realize its own function, whilst having its own maturation cycle. In the development of a business for example, the different functions of production, staff training, sales promotion and research will not all begin and reach maturity at the same stage. In humans, nutrition, respiration, reproduction and social development will not all mature at the same time, so that designating when an individual is to be considered mature is never particularly straightforward.

Sexual maturity is usually chosen as the primary marker of general maturity in biological entities...justified or not... and in many ways it certainly exemplifies the general complex maturity phenomenon. Because it is the phase when the whole point of the process is realized, the desire to attain it and avoid leaving it is often overwhelming. Naive juveniles have an irrepressible urge to copy, simulate and explore all those behaviours which their culture advertises as mature. The world of ripe adulthood has an all-consuming allure whether the relevant organs and capacities have developed or not. From the instant that biological maturity has been attained, such as when ova and sperm finally develop from certain precursor cells for example, diverse degradations, shrivellings and malfunctions seem to become more obvious and mark the beginning of maturity and the onset of decrepitude. The evidence for these deteriorations is ignored or suppressed in order to sustain the maturity self-image for as long as is possible. The inability to run, jump or swim as fast as formerly is shrugged off as unimportant. The appearance of wrinkles and skin blemishes and hair loss is camouflaged with whatever technology is effective. Expanding guts, flaccid erections, deflating breasts and diminishing flexibility are disguised or rectified with the assistance of an industry created for the purpose. The prolonging of the illusion of maturity and the postponing of its demise is undertaken with a commitment that denies mortality.

Ultimately of course, in spite of unlimited financial means, unbounded egos and an insular belief system, the awareness and reality of decrepitude eventually attains an ironic maturity of its own.