As my fifth decade begins to wind down, I am still amazed at how significant this time of my life has been and continues to be. In my thirties, I thought I knew all about life. I was busy, active in a wide range of interests and generally moving at warp speed. In my forties, I began to ask questions like “what’s the point of all this rushing” and “why am I so unhappy when I seem to have it all”? By the time I slipped over the line into my fifties I settled into a process of stillness, reflection and open-hearted learning. It’s not always comfortable but I wouldn’t change a thing.
What I’ve most appreciated is the vantage point that I can now see the world from. I’m no longer in it as much as I am observing, witnessing, embracing and perhaps, to some degree, shaping. Life with its ebb and flow, peaks and valleys is meaningful and intriguing. I realize now that following the path of my family and friends, I clearly missed a lot of possibilities. I’m not regretting my decisions; just noticing.
In Wayne Dyer’s film “The Shift” he says “As we contemplate leaving the morning of our life, where ego has played a commanding role, and entering the afternoon (and evening), where meaning and purpose replace ambition and struggle, we may encounter unexpected occurrences that accompany this new direction.” There is no doubt that I am delighted to be in the afternoon of my life, taking time to slow down and absorb the messages that now flow to me effortlessly.
What stops many people from seeing the power of mid-life is the constant, external pressure to be and do more. There are many causes, crises, urgent needs for us to consider. There are demands on our time and insistent pulls to change and ‘improve’ our lives. And we are asked over and over again to make our lives mean something. What is often missed is the importance of living fully in the lives we have and acknowledging the difference we make every day in our own unique way. If only we could see that we are indeed having an impact and that our lives are purposeful even when we are quiet and introspective.
And though I am content with where I am, I still pay attention to the urges that creep in. I am sensitive to the fact that there may well be more sand in the bottom of my life hourglass than in the top. Anything I might long to accomplish or feel a passion to explore must get done soon if I am to be sure time doesn’t run out. Yes, what matters to me on this beautiful fall day is oddly dissimilar to what I was set on doing several months ago when spring was blossoming. Neither is right or wrong; they are just different. And anything left undone is simply left undone. No tragedy or disappointment. Just as is.
What I lean into now is wisdom and full acceptance; following my heart, being open and curious; ready and willing to learn. I’ve made this my life’s work to help others enjoy and appreciate all seasons of their life. Armed with this perspective I am certain that this incredible decade of my life will spill over into the next.
Daryl Wood is an author, retreat facilitator, coach and mentor choosing the rhythm of life on the shores of Lake Huron near Tobermory, Ontario.