Birth, grandpa, grandparent, baby, newborn

Through the ages. Where are we and where are we going?

Transitioning through life. 7,4,3

Let’s start with the Bard and his 7 ages of man (…sorry ladies, a bit behind the times here!)

Shakespeare’s 7 ages of man

Stage 1, Infant: A dependant baby

Stage 2, Child: Formal Education

Stage 3, Teenager: Early transition to adulthood.

Stage 4, Young man:

Stage 5, Middle aged:

Stage 6, Old man:

Stage 7, Dotage and death:

This needs little explanation but if you want more our friend Google will supply you with hours of fun! Since William’s day the ages have been compressed by some to four and others to three (leaving out the rather morbid ‘decrepitude and death bit!)

In W.B. Yeat’s poem Supernatural Songs, part IX he puts across his idea of our life cycle in four ages of man that can be seen to relate to body, heart, mind, and soul.

First Age: recalls infancy, as the baby struggles to walk and to take its place among other upright human beings. The Age of Preparation to our youth.

Second Age :echoes adolescence, as the innocence and peace of childhood gives way to a battle of the emotions. The Age of Achievement – from our teens.

Third Age: recalls adult maturity, as the storms of adolescent emotion give way to the adventures of the mind and fulfilment – roughly age 50 – 75

Let’s concentrate on this – If it were a Shakespeare play we’d call it the 3rd Act!

Fourth Age: The Age of Completion alludes to late adulthood, when spiritual concerns take front stage and to death, when the struggle for the soul is ultimately resolved.

Let’s concentrate on the third age and for us hopefully a life of active retirement and TOYL, roughly from ages 50 to 75 which has been made possible by improvements in our collective health giving rise to a longer life expectancy which has granted us a life bonus of twenty to thirty years over that of previous generations. TOYL is rich in possibilities and potential but necessitates that we search for new meaning, create new roles and identity and define rather than accept profound change. TOYL can be a time of renewal and transformation and a challenge so long as we see our future life as full of possibility, opportunity, a chance to build on our past and achieving a more fulfilling present. It all depends on our “response-ability”!! In our Third Age our family roles will have changed and having less work focus, we can delve deeper into ourselves and find what gives us a meaning, a sense of purpose and passion. During this transition to TOYL we can reclaim or revisit some of what got neglected along the way, clear out unwanted baggage, heal old wounds and see who we want to finally grow-up to be!

Managing our transition to TOYL may help avoid a “midlife crisis” by avoiding falling into the trap – of “Is this it?” by asking ourselves, “What truly matters to me and how can I get this front and centre in my life?”

I came across the 7 Pillars of Act3 at a seminar given by Judy and Adrian Reith

A good place to start might be to consider these:-

1. Soul Who are you deep down and what makes you tick?

2. Values What are yours

3. Goals SMART







4. Actions What are you going to do about it, now and later.

5. Assets
a. visible = home Money, work, skills, etc.
b. invisible = community, family, health, outlook, etc.

6. Fears and Feelings – What do you REALLY think about this?

7. Understanding Transition

Ask yourself:-

Who am I? (past, present, future.)

What are my passions now and for my future?

Why now? Why not?

Where can I make my most meaningful contribution and is it HERE?

When can I take that leap of faith? (Think transition rather than leap!)

How can I make the most of my Third Age so that my Fourth Age is truly a completion my fulfilling and meaningful life?

To paraphrase Thoreau,

… an examined life is a life worth living and choices that arise from that examination lead us not only to survive but to fully thrive as we grow into the wisdom and fulfilment of that exploration.


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