I am persuaded that the second half of life can be the better half because it offers the opportunity for genuine freedom. It can be the time when we learn that it is not necessary to conform to the ridiculous standards of masculinity that we imbibed in our younger years.
The crippling demands on our lives that were handed to us, and which we accepted as inevitable, can be seen for what they are, because we are beginning to realize how impossible they are to fulfill.
We can truly learn that our value as persons does not reside in what we have done, what social status we have, what we own, or how many push-ups we can do. We can embrace, perhaps for the first time, an authentic spirituality comprising not the rules of duty or dogma but vital relationships to ourselves, others, the world of nature, and the sacred that permeates it all.
We have forgotten the rites of passage that help us learn how to become wise elders who
actively participate in our communities and live deep, fulfilling lives. Unfortunately, our
culture’s current perspective is that the second half of life offers only decline, disease,
despair and death. If we are to live our best second half of life, to embrace these years and flourish in
them, we need to consciously shift our cultural perspective.
From age fifty onward, we know that there will be four frontiers to face:
—Retirement: from what, toward what?
—The possibility of becoming a mentor, a steward, or a grandparent.
—Coping with the natural challenges of maintaining the health of an aging body.
—Mortality: losing our loved ones, and the inevitability of our own death.
Each of these frontiers will demand from us very different attitudes, disciplines, and life
skills, many of which have not yet been clearly associated with increased longevity. Each
frontier will challenge us to be courageous in the face of our fears. This new terrain
promises to be both daunting and exciting.
So, how do we transcend this, gracefully? What can guide us through these later stages of life? Do we look to the Myths, Lore and stereotypes to help us with the lessons?
How are we to go about in discovering, designing, planning and creating the healthy and satisfying life that we desire?