What song is waiting to be sung by you?
What dream is waiting to be lived in technicolor?
What script is waiting to be written and played out on the stage of your life?
The Second Half of Life, age 50 and beyond, is Your time; your time to be authentic, to, love more, to contribute back and to share your wisdom. It is your time to harvest the fruits of all the experiences that make up your life. Suzanne Braun Levine in Inventing the Rest of Our Lives, says “When Sleeping Beauty awakens at fifty, she’s done with fairy tales and ready to write her own—in her own voice.”
The Second Half of Life is about freedom; freeing our Auntie Mame to come out and play. It’s about breaking out of the box and living fully each moment, casting off the stereotypes and painting a new picture of aging. In fact, let’s throw out the word “aging” and use “ripening” instead. Picture yourself as this exquisite, deep red, beautiful ripe apple that began as a gentle blossom on a wizened apple tree and as the seasons of your life came and went you became a small green fruit and then a larger, pinker fruit, and now a beautiful deep red and ripe apple. You have been blown by the winds of experience, perhaps a bit battered by storms, and you have been kissed by the warmth of the sun and caressed by the fog and mist. All of the weathering of the seasons has brought you to this place of Wisdom.
You are at a place of perfect choice. The first half of your life may have been lived from a place of responsibility to others, obligations to be met, expectations to be lived up to; a place where the outside world may have had a stronger influence on what you did than your inside world. At this time you are at a place of choice, creativity and freedom to design your world from inside of you; from the place that makes your heart sing.
The terms Third Age, Second Adulthood or Second Growth are used to describe the time of life after 50. In fact, this year, 2006, there will be more people in the United States who are over 50 years of age than less than 50 years of age, and in 2005 women over 50 comprised 16.2 percent of the population. The Longevity Index published by Credit Suisse First Boston in December 2005 says that women have a life expectancy of 82.6 years. Much literature is being published about Third Age and three common themes appear.
Living with passion and purpose – This is the time in our life where wisdom and heart join and we know that we are not the roles we have played; we are the inspiration. We know what has meaning for us, who we are, and what we want to do with this richest part of our lives. We have the freedom and time to follow our passion. Or if you are still exploring what you want to do, you are not alone. Thirty-seven percent of adults in a 1999 study of 55-64 year olds said that continuing their education was an important part of their retirement plans. What have you always wanted to do and were afraid to? Are you a shy musician, a private painter, a budding activist? What thread has run through your life that keeps showing up? What dream awakens you with the thought, “I wonder if I could….”? This is the perfect time to explore that yearning. It is never too late. Mavis runs a tap dancing class in North Essex. Mavis is 70 years old and her class of twelve women includes three over 60. Miss Mavis is passionate about dancing and her purpose is to share that passion with other women.
Deepening our relationships – This is the time in our life where we choose relationships that are authentic and meaningful to us; where we move more deeply into our relationship with ourselves and our spiritual nature. It is a time of mending relationships, of freedom, of forgiving and moving on. It may mean letting go of a relationship that no longer supports us or nurtures us and embracing new ones. Where in your life is a relationship that needs tending, or perhaps pruning? Who can you invite in to support you in creating this new life and who can you release? Angeles Arrien says in The Second Half of Life, that “The second half of life challenges us to love differently in relationships, not controlling or possessing others, and not permitting ourselves to be controlled or possessed.” It is about freedom.
Contributing rather than working – This is the time in our life where meaningful work, service, and leaving a legacy are calling to us. Many of us will choose to continue in traditional positions sharing our wisdom and knowledge. Susan Ascher, founder of human resources firm The Ascher Group in Roseland, New Jersey, says that she has seen at least a 20 percent increase in her over 60 clients in the past ten years, and that “These people have a lot of talent and seasoning and are more grounded than many younger workers.” Some may become entrepreneurs. Sadie Lynette, a lover of antiques and expensive French glass, now 91, began her antique business after she retired at age 64. She works 7 hours a day, 4 to 5 days a week. Others will leave their former work environment and contribute their wisdom and talents in a volunteer capacity. A study by Peter D. Hart Research Associates reflected that 50 percent of the 50 – 75 year olds ranked volunteering or community service as the most important part of their retirement plans, second to travel at 57%.
Angeles Arrien says, “The ultimate task…..is to create, generate, and serve meaningfully so that our lives can become our message.” Where could your love of music be best shared; your gift of compassionate listening; your wizardry in business? What gift is uniquely yours to contribute? Someone is waiting for you to make a difference in their life. You are the mentors and the elders that the world is waiting for.
What is your message? What does your unique footprint look like on the sands of this life? I invite you to say Yes to the second half of your life, it is never too late.
© Carol McKeag, Coaching for Life & Spirit