…the play of life unfolds in a graceful arc from birth to death, becoming more nuanced and rewarding as it moves toward the denouement—perfect fulfillment, not “mere oblivion.” Here we play four distinct roles as the drama of life unfolds: student, householder, forest dweller, and renunciate. The first two are self-explanatory and accord well with our modern view. During the student years—childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood—our primary task is acquiring the knowledge and skills we will need to make our way in the world. We draw on these attainments when we become householders, immersing ourselves in the rush and roar of life as we go about earning a living, raising a family, and doing our civic duty. But here the resemblance ends. In our modern script, the third act—retirement—defines us in terms of what we’ve left behind instead of what lies ahead. Up through our late 50s and into our 60s, our energy has been mainly focused on tangible achievements: earning a degree, building a career, raising children, acquiring property, perhaps making a name for ourselves. Now, as these familiar identities and activities fall away, we find ourselves without a clear, purposeful direction.
It goes on to explain that instead of trying to resist aging, and the changing stages of life, we should embrace this next stage as a time of turning inward, reflection and realization of what endures. I found it very comforting, and am putting it in the column labeled, “Why this is a great time in my life.”
Finding the article reinforces what Jenny, the wise one, said this weekend–that I should enjoy relaxing and having time to do what I want after working hard for so many years. She has a very wise perspective on life for being so young.