“Whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith” -1 John 5:4

The theory of life cycles may refer to humans, products, businesses or economies. Today, we shall focus on the human life cycle. In ancient Greece, the human life cycle was mapped in seven-year periods. Today, most people recognize the human life cycle as having five distinct stages shared by all humans: birth, infancy, childhood, adolescence and adulthood.  Human life can be explained more concretely by looking at these life stages.

When a baby is conceived its DNA is defined and it begins the evolutionary process, from a single cell, and proceeds to multiply into many cells that form the body parts and organs of new human life. The journey through life is specifically nourished by nutrition, exercise, sleep, peace of mind, touch, conversation and breathing; it is generally influenced by our holistic environment.

Please pause for a moment and permit me this “breathing” interlude. At birth the baby takes its first breath accompanied by a cry. The breathing process continues throughout life and, indeed, it has been observed that when a human being takes its first breath, it cries; but when a human being takes its last breath, others cry.  Breath is synonymous with life. Also, as author Joan Borysenko has said in her book Inner Peace for Busy People, “Breathing is the single most important skill for calming body and mind”. How many of us use this simple skill of breathing control to enhance our quality of life?

Infancy is categorized as lasting from birth through the first year of life. The infant is completely dependent upon its parents or caretakers for survival.

Childhood takes place between ages one to ten. The first two years of childhood, the child is called a toddler. During this time, the child learns how to walk, talk and be more self-sufficient. These skills continue to expand during the remainder of childhood, and socialization takes place. Childhood constitutes the “building blocks” upon which adolescence and, later, adulthood will be built, and the child is susceptible during this time (usually by age six) to learned habits and behaviors.

Adolescence takes place between ages 12 and 18 and is a critical turning point because it is when puberty takes place. As such, boys and girls begin to separate more from the parents and become more independent.

Adulthood is the longest stage and normally lasts from age18 through old age. While there might be smaller psychological or culturally defined stages, adulthood is when human beings are fully grown and must provide entirely for themselves using the skills they learned throughout the first life stages. This is also a significant time because it is when the life cycle is initiated again by the conception and birth of the adult’s own children. At the end of the adult life cycle, the body begins to deteriorate and the life cycle eventually ends in physical death.

I am at the stage of life when funerals come fast and frequently.  Before one’s parents would represent the family at funerals but that is no longer the case. Indeed, I now find myself, at an alarmingly increasingly rate, attending funerals of persons younger than myself.

This last week I was present on the occasions when we celebrated the life of E. Coleridge Pilgrim and Adrian J. L. Randall who had come to the end of their adult life cycles. Coleridge was a senior agriculturalist when I returned to the Caribbean as a Biometrician at the Faculty of Agriculture, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, in 1968.  Even though he was not based in Trinidad, regional travel was an integral part of my job and in this context our paths crossed on many occasions. I was most impressed by his commitment to agricultural development in the Caribbean and learned much from him.

In the last ten years, we spent a lot of time together as we were both involved in the promotion of the development of West Indies Sea Island Cotton as a value-added industry for Barbados and the Caribbean.  We were both disappointed in the lack of progress when compared with the potential for the industry.  Coleridge, as long as I am given the opportunity and can regulate my breathing to make a contribution to this end, I shall emulate your passion for this “family silver” industry especially now that the economy needs all the help that it can get.  The agricultural community is the poorer for his sudden passing but he did make it to the rich old age of 90. May he Rest in Peace!

Adrian was junior to me at Harrison College and I do not recall any common interests at that time.  He and his brother were of course known as Mrs. Randall’s sons. She was the headmistress of Queen’s College, the high profile girl’s school at that time. Adrian returned to Barbados to live in the middle of the last decade with his wife Jenny who predeceased him two years ago.  Adrian and Jenny became Rotarians in our club, the Rotary Club of Barbados South.  We also met through activities of the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Old Harrisonian Society.  His dedication to Rotary was exemplary. May they both Rest in Peace!

When one loses family, friends or colleagues suddenly, or we think prematurely, clouds may seem dark for a time, but we may be heartened by the fact that faith in God can conquer the world.