It’s been a strange couple of years and for most of you I hope the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the express train hurtling toward you! Where I am it seems the population and government have got bored of Covid-19 and are ignoring the facts that infections are going up and hospital admissions are fairly static and ‘acceptable’ or at least manageable in the eyes of those that don’t do the managing – the front line healthcare staff are at their wits end and many are looking to leave if and when the sinking ship makes port and the crisis is over, whatever that means. (THEN there will be the real CRISIS when healthcare systems are trying to deal with the backlog of cases not dealt with during the pandemic with many of the staff missing. What sort of a world have we got used to when we still have hundreds and thousands of Covid-19 deaths in excess of ‘normal’, let alone the ‘new normal’? I’m hoping my despair will repair and post Easter I’ll be reborn and transition to a happier life! Oh and then there’s Ukraine!
Some say the word Easter is derived from Eostre (also known as Ostara), an ancient Anglo-Saxon Goddess who symbolized the rebirth of the day at dawn and the rebirth of life in the spring. The arrival of spring was celebrated all over the world long before the religious meaning became associated with Easter as we celebrate it now. The egg, an ancient symbol of new life was used in pagan festivals celebrating spring as a symbol of new life. The spring equinox marks the day when light is equal to darkness and will continue to grow. It’s a period to celebrate renewal, with eggs and hares taking centre stage as symbols for the season. We don’t have to worry about what came first, the chicken or the egg because Easter eggs are of course actually the product of the Easter bunny, a mythical creature who nowadays delivers chocolate eggs to children. However the Easter bunny’s ancestor is the 17th-century folkloric Osterhase, a German egg-laying hare.
Now without wanting to teach my grandmother how to suck eggs from a Christian perspective, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and resurrection. Jesus’ resurrection. The hard shell is the tomb and the baby chick inside is Jesus. Easter egg rolling – a traditional game of rolling eggs down a grassy hill apparently represents the tombstone rolling away to reveal Jesus’ empty tomb. I’ll leave it up to you but I’d like to wish Christians, believers of other faiths and none a very happy Easter – Bunny chocolate egg and all!
We have had restrictions to our freedom, in my mind for good reason – it’s not unsurprising that many authoritarian nations have had far fewer deaths per head of population than our western democracies with governments fearful of their public’s response to a perceived lack of liberty. However as has been said – none of us are safe until all of us are safe and vaccinating the whole world will be one of humanities greatest achievements.
However, if we are to look forward the world as a whole has I hope something to look forward to and although we will never return to the old way of life, the new normal will hopefully be a better place given time.
If humanity has a rebirth to look forward to post Covid-19, then let us not forget that we too as individuals go through life’s transitions which are opportunities for rebirth and change. Retirement is but one of these. Many a man endowed with greater minds than I have attempted to define these transitions or rebirths. We will all likely to have passed through some more easily than others and possibly got stuck at some stages longer than we might have envisioned.
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. Yeats’ 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?
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
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.