With Age Comes Wisdom
by Phyllis Sisenwine
I recently spent a weekend with some dear friends and the subject of aging came up. One woman said she was afraid of getting older. She is concerned about her body changing both physically and mentally. I asked if she had ever read the book “New Passages” by Gail Sheehy, which she had not. It is a wonderful book about the various stages of adulthood “from the tryout twenties and turbulent thirties to the flourishing forties, flaming fifties and serene sixties”. Gail Sheehy maps out a completely new frontier, a second adulthood in middle life. “Stop and recalculate,” she writes. “Imagine the day you turn 45 as the infancy of another life.”
This is a very powerful message. If at the age of 45 we have another adulthood in front of us, how do we want it to manifest? Do you want to write a book, climb a mountain, write poetry or travel? Whatever age or stage you are in life right now, take a minute to look forward to the next passage. As we enter each decade of our lives there is a wisdom that develops. It is a time to develop new possibilities, to become better, stronger, deeper and wiser. Sheehy calls the years from 45 to 65 the Age of Mastery. If you’re in that group, do you feel that you have a sense of mastery? Are you in touch with your wisdom?
Have you ever said, “if I had it to do over again I would do things differently.”? Well perhaps you can do it over again in your second adulthood. Willard Scott on the Today show constantly sends birthday wishes to 100-year-old viewers, so you probably have plenty of time, but don’t put it off. Are there things you’ve always wanted to do, but didn’t have the time? Then try this fun exercise. Take a sheet of paper and list 100 things you want to do before you’re 100 years old. Just write and see what comes up for you. Look positively towards your next decade. Do something that you didn’t think possible. Look at your list. Do you want to paint, explore, play games or take piano lessons? What can you start working on now?
As we grow older many of us lose our youthful enthusiasm. We don’t have to. Today, people in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s are getting graduate degrees and running marathons. So we can and should maintain our vitality, joy and a spark of life. We don’t have to be like a friend of mine from elementary school. When we were young she laughed easily and had a bubbly personality. When I saw her many years later at a high school reunion she had lost her sense of joy. She seemed grey like the color of her hair. With every decade we reach let’s expand our curiosity. Let’s rekindle our dreams.Try new things. Be with people who are positive and encouraging. Seek friends whose ideas will stimulate and enhance your own.
My father who lived to 89 had a very positive and youthful attitude. His favorite expressions were “Don’t worry, be Happy” and “:Laughter is the best medicine”. He loved to tell a joke and he did crafts that exhibited his sense of humor. Do you feel enthusiastic about tomorrow like my father did? If you look at the stage of life you are in now and where you are going, how does it feel? Think about how much wiser you are today then you were ten years ago. Appreciate your wisdom.
I recently read about a group of people who are clowning for area charities. They go to schools, nursing homes and hospitals. What a great way to feel energized. As businesspeople when we become positive, enthusiastic and energized, it helps our businesses and our personal lives. So keep an optimistic, can-do attitude. Think of ways you can energize yourself.
And when your next birthday comes around, think about your second adulthood. Picture yourself on the top of a mountain with many roads to take. Which road do you want?
Previously Published by SBN Magazine