The Second Half of Life — Navigating Our Way Through It
As an increasingly larger portion of the population finds itself in the ‘second half’ of life, there is a push for awareness to expand once again. In some ways it is difficult to prepare for aging, for the young cannot embrace a perspective complete enough to predict what to prepare for! Besides, if we are living in the moment, we are not thinking too much about what life will be like ten years from now.
Further, aging is something that seems to happen to the body-mind, but not to the spirit. If we identify strongly with the body and the mind, we may be thrown off balance by changes time may bring. If we identify more strongly with spirit, we may scarcely be aware of changes that affect our physical or mental abilities. In fact, it may be that a lively spirit keeps the body younger, the mind more active.
It is important to ‘feed’ the spirit, to give it space to roam freely, and allow it to sometimes (often) take the lead. Those individuals who seem truly ageless, are the ones who allow their spirits to explore, like curious little puppies. There is always something interesting around the next corner. The second half of life is no exception.
We could almost say that it is in the second half of life that the soul becomes more deeply aware of itself. As a baby grows, there is a gradual development of self-awareness; away from egocentricity and towards awareness of self-in-world. As soul awareness grows, there is a similar shift away from self-in-world towards spirit-in-eternity.
There is a profound losing, or letting go of an old world, an old way of seeing things. As the child grows up, the back yard which was once the whole “outside world”, loses significance as a wider world opens up. As soul-awareness grows, the back yard of this Earth similarly loses significance as we catch glimpses of yet another ‘world’ beyond the familiar.
We could almost say that it is in the second half of life that the soul becomes more deeply aware of itself.
Just as there are those who prefer the security of the back yard and are reluctant to venture up the street, so there are those who cling to the security of the world, fearful of the unknown beyond. The best preparation for whatever the future brings is to decide to embrace change rather than resist it. It is better to ride the wave, than to simply stand there and hope it does not knock you over.
We can ride gently into the second half of life. There is no rush anymore. The second half is for savoring. Children are not interested in scenery, there is so much of it and it’s all the same. Older people are entranced by scenery; each scene is unique and precious, existing only once like this, in this particular moment of our experience. Children want to get going, keep moving. Older people just want them to be still for a moment, so they can really look at them. They know how quickly the children will grow, and how precious is this one moment that they share. There is much to savor.
The second half is also the time for the mingling of intellect and experience, allowing it to steep, so that the wisdom becomes strong and robust. It is the time to share that wisdom with the tribe, as we move towards our role as elders. It will be for us to re-define what it means to live fully, to keep growing and learning, to explore our creativity year after year.
Our most profound task, however, may be to demonstrate a fearless transition from form, to formless. So much more aware of our “spiritual selves” than our predecessors, our journey of transition may be undertaken with much greater consciousness than ever before. Practicing non-attachment allows us to let go more easily. Being in the moment allows us to live more fully. Spirit becomes lighter and lighter, more and more free. And when that happens, the lines between young and old, life and death begin to blur. Then perhaps, as Richard Bach has written, “there’s no such place as far away”. Whether in form, or formlessness, we are still and ever, one.