Life is full of transitions and change. It seems that from the time we’re able to form thoughts and learn to speak, we’re in a rush to grow up – “once I’m 16 I can drive a car”, “at 18 I can graduate school and make my own decisions”, “once I hit 21 I can party with my friends whenever I want to”…we’ve got the accelerator to the floor to hurry up and “get there”. We don’t need or want a road map, just hand us the keys and we’ll drive!
By the time we’re in our early thirties, we’re not only looking for that brake pedal but pressing it hard – life has been streaming by too fast! The years of care-free living turned into a couple of decades of putting our survival skills to the test – perhaps getting married, beginning a family, keeping up the mortgage payments…we’re fumbling now for that road map…retirement is coming up too quickly and we haven’t prepared as we should have.
Just before we hit the age of 40 we begin to realize the abusses we’ve inflicted upon our bodies, the incredible moments we’ve missed with our families, the multitude of times we could have “taken more time” to enjoy youthful and carefree days full of vitality and whimsical adventure. Teens look at us as if we’re now “old people” who have no clue what it’s like to be thirteen. Seniors look at us with knowing smiles, recalling what the mid-life transition was like for them and recalling how they survived it.
Facing the age of 40 can be painful and scary. We’re no longer the young, firm and beautiful objects of desire – so full of energy, hope, and naivete. That position has now been filled by our children – winding their way along their own hurried journeys in life. For a while, we may feel at a loss…depressed, unsure, displaced. Not only is the vehicle slowing down steadily, but the parts are getting a bit rusty – nuts and bolts becoming “set” – just as we’re becoming set in our ways with less tolerance toward flexibility.
The road map of our destiny – wrinkles, sagging skin, slower movements, illness – is right there in plain sight, and we want nothing more than to burn it!
Somehow, magically, and when we’re not even paying attention, a new feeling overtakes the often difficult transition. It’s called comfort.
Throughout the years, we’ve faced (and conquered) more trials than any teenager could fathom. We learned where our inner strengths lie and how to access them at any given time. There is a growing spark of self-appreciation as a peaceful, serene and quieted inner voice takes over.
We begin to understand that middle-age is not the end of youth, but the beginning of wisdom. That every year of our lives promises new trials and triumphs, and we will make it through them just fine. We have the answers our children seek. We’ve been there. With a calmness we haven’t felt in decades, we’re able to slow the vehicle to an idle, enjoying every bit of the scenery as we move along. The map, though we really feel no need for it anymore, is tucked neatly into the glove box.
Written by Polly Taskey on the subject of turning 40
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