OK, here’s what I’m thinking, as I’m way past midlife. At almost 78, I guess I’m an endlife girl!
I used to see life as a series of many stages or phases, 1, 2, 3, etc; but now I’m thinking maybe not so much. Maybe only two. First we build and explore in order to survive in a culture that teaches us to show off. A culture that teaches us that what matters, what counts toward our worthiness, is what can be seen…either in a picture, an award, a line on a resume, or a paycheck. Or whatever. That it must be seen somewhere, and acknowledged somewhere. Phase 1 we climb and conquer and show the world. And we survive battles. Or, if we don’t, we get depressed and cry and go searching for a new hill to climb and plant our flag at the top and say: “Hurrah! I did it! Look at me everybody!”
I used to look at older women and wonder where all their ambition went, why they didn’t pursue the prettiest houses, or clothes or decorate every room in the house for every holiday and cook 6 course meals. I thought they were lazy, or slowing down and vowed to my ownself that I would never be like that.
Well, now I know that phase 2 comes along and some of those things are thrown aside not because we are lazy but because our heart yearns for something else.
Phase 2 is more mystical, more about discovering our soul, what feeds it and causes us to grow inside. We find the purest joy in doing some things, and we give a lot of energy to them even if no one ever knows or sees them. The need for affirmation we have in Phase 1 is gone and we no longer chase after it. We start enjoying sunrises and flowers and pets and everything we see, just because they are beautiful. We sit back and let the beauty of them invade us and grow gratitude in us…just us alone. If they get shared, that’s ok, but it’s not why we are doing it. And we also begin to wonder and notice what brings real joy to those around us.
In Phase 1 we do things for affirmation and we care a lot about what other people think. In Phase 2 we do them just because …well, just because, and we don’t care what people think.
I love to write, I have to write. It’s nice when others appreciate it, but that’s a passing thought. I write because it makes me feel so good to look at a page and be proud of it for my ownself.
I love to draw, and I’m not very good at it, but I draw because it always makes me giggle when I’m done. Don’t ever have to show anyone, I just like drawing.
It may be hard to embrace Phase 2 because we are usually forced into it by retirement or illness or loss or age. Maybe it’s so hard because now our heart longs to discover the hearts of others. What makes those close to us want to sing, to dance.
It’s way easier to flow into Phase 2 when you are old, if you start in Phase 1. Enjoy a few solitary things for yourself and try not showing them to anyone. Why wait till you are over 70 before you start enjoying the “alone” things in life. Phase 2 can overlap Phase 1, and then it becomes the best!