Imbolc                                                                              Bloodroot Moon

Great line in a note from Tom Byfield, longtime docent at the MIA, recently resigned.  He writes:  For many years being a docent was the Botox I needed to ease my way into old age feeling good about myself.  This is third phase thinking, considering this next, long portion of our lives and deciding what’s necessary to keep feeling good.

We all need some reconstructive surgery as we move away from life’s second phase, the one of work/career and family.  That is, we have to reshape, reconfigure our presence in the world.  This is different, in my mind at least, from reinventing yourself.  Not sure I’d want to do that. Not sure I could do that. But discovering new parts of myself or neglected parts that could blossom with sufficient attention, now that’s important.  And doable.

Another way to think about this is that the first two phases of life, education and career/family are instrumental.  We see ourselves as in training for something to do, then doing it, often with a spouse and children.  Much of the angst of the first two phases of life comes in the tension between the (necessary) instrumental view of our self and the Self aching to discover its true purpose.  The lucky ones match the instrumental with Self discovery, but most aren’t so lucky.

In the third phase of life though the instrumental drops away and the Self emerges, perhaps as out of a cocoon, with wings and the ability to fly.  After all those years of crawling along the ground.  Wow.  But, it turns out, flying is scary and leaving the ground behind also means leaving behind a lifetime of habits and learnings for the unknown.  It’s not surprising that so many fail to even spread their wings during the third phase.

We humans often hold close pain in preference to change, being familiar with the outline and shape of our misery while ignorant of the other.  We fear those things we do not know and this is wise.  It lends that side note of caution that often keeps us safe.  But, it turns out, that same side note can keep us from growing, from spreading those new wings and heading off into the morning.

So this is a message of encouragement if you’re stuck right now, hanging on to the job, the career, the skills that made you successful.  They’re not you; they’re things you learned.  Now you have an opportunity to learn some more.  I hope you take the chance.  Crawl out of that chrysalis and find out what life has to offer today.



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