The System of Developmental Aging as a Non-Continuum

What if we have been calculating years incorrectly all this time, and we aren’t really aging as predictably as we thought we were? My latest wonder is about time as a continuum of a system that is not defined by predictable timespaces. Meadows claims that “there’s not much we can do about it, because four-year-olds become five-year-olds, and sixty-four-year-olds become sixty-five-year olds predictably and unstoppably” (p. 151)

Yes, we all ‘know’ that years are only a measure of trips around the sun. But what if the gravitational pull of one’s household dysfunction alters their trip around their own developmental sun? What if a person’s brain is their sun, and their family life is where they spend their time circling around their sun? What if hurdles and gifts in our life path are the “fluctuations or expansions that strain” like bottlenecks for a river stream? (p. 151) What if these stock-and-flow structures define the capacity of our physical time in years as leverage points in our system?

Yet self-organization “requires freedom and experimentation, and a certain amount of disorder” (p. 80). So then, are these leverage points in our development a predictable need for our trip around our developmental sun? But, if “system leverage points are points of power” (p. 145) to the right or wrong directions, then how can we grow up in these punishing circumstances and find a balance?


Meadows, D. H. (2008). Thinking in systems: A primer. White River Junction, VT: Chelsea Green Publishing Company.