Despite what is frequently portrayed in media, development doesn’t end in our twenties; of course we grow and change throughout our lifetime. This is my birthday weekend and on Monday I will begin another trip around the sun!
My few years into the decade of my 50s with its backdrop of COVID, political drama, economic uncertainty has certainly been a strange decade so far in many ways. The book “The Human Life” by George and Gisela O’Neil and Florin Lowndes is always a good reminder as to what to expect with aging in a more archetypal sense that transcends immediate circumstances.
Of the years 49-56 they write: “At the onset of the second phase, traumas are possible. It is as though new vitality were lent man, and adjustments are called for. For the one still adaptable, whose sense of humor or perspective is intact, the transition can be smooth. Symptoms can be reminiscent of adolescence. In the profession it is called “the change of life”, and here, definitely, distinctions are permitted. The “he” who avoid self-knowledge in these years is prone to the heart attack – a rather two-meaninged expression: either late summer romance or hospital care. The “she”, of course, much reckon with a metamorphosis of bodily forces into “spirit-life” powers. The powers of maturity now manifesting can be seen in the forcefulness with which a person in these years can promote a new cause. It can be seen in the power which an older eurythmist or an older actor has on stage, or an older teacher with young children. There is something quite different from the talent and skill with which younger people are endowed. It is as though the wisdom of life becomes now instinct in their whole being…..”In summary: whereas in the forties one is conscious of the ideas one has in mind, in the fifties one can find the strength to bring to life these ideas as intentions, and only in the years following will one have the native ability to realize these ideas and intentions in their final forms.”
I love this idea that the most productive period to come, of final forms of ideas being produced. I have several projects on a personal level and watching them come to life is exciting. Some are small scale, like steps toward my own health. Some are medium scale such as the farm and what we intend to produce and how we intend to shape the house and the land. Some are larger such as how to carry out my professional work into my retirement years and what my husband and I will do in retirement. I am lucky to have him by my side and I also so lucky to have been able to watch my children grow up to this point – they are now going to be 21, 18, and 13 this year. What a gift and a treasure to be here with them, to be working and helping people, to be on our farm.
The few things I have learned in these decades outside of loving people, always loving people, always meeting people where they are is that we need effective ways to educate and bring balance to our young people. We need to help our children develop their will and new skills and new faculties as they navigate their 20’s and then 30’s. The later 30’s and early 40’s can be lonely times, but as we head into our 50’s perhaps we can see a new progression toward community, building our family up again, re-connecting, seeing unity – at least perhaps in those awake enough to think along these lines! How can we best prepare our children for that point?
Peace from my corner of the world,