Posted on October 27th, 2009 by Colin and is posted in Midlife
“Perhaps middle age is, or should be, a period of shedding shells—the shell of ambition, the shell of material accumulations and possessions and the shell of the ego.”
This is the analogy Anne Morrow Lindbergh uses in her beautiful book of meditations – Gift from the Sea.
Adult life has been described as a series of cycles. Throughout these cycles we build life structures that later need to be revised or abandoned. Changes come, and we need a more suitable life pattern. Old structures that no longer serve us can block our personal growth leaving us with a ‘smile off’ life existence.
My own midlife experience will testify it’s not easy for us to shed shells, because the current one is comfortable and known. Inertia can be powerful, but if we refuse to make appropriate changes, we sabotage our own lives. Stagnation and loss of our smile feed on such an attitude.
How often have you heard someone say: “This job is soul destroying, but I’m making good money and we’re just at the point of being financially comfortable. How can I afford to make a change?” Such questions should make us look more carefully at the life we are leading and lay out some options. Will a small change make a difference? Or is a more radical step needed?
We, as a family, took the radical approach of shell shedding by stopping the world and getting off for a year to live on the quite and peaceful Island of Fuerteventura. What ever you decide, as you shed shells it is normal to go through a period of personal soul searching: thinking about the future and even shutting out the world to some extent.
This soul searching is particularly acute when we face one of life’s three ‘un’s’ (often perceived as a crisis) The unexpected, the uninvited and the unthinkable: divorce, widowhood, job loss, or serious illness. Dealing with these life ‘un’s’ requires unhurried and quiet time to cope with endings and losses, to sort things out and focus on the future. With the support of others, and our own efforts, a new life pattern gradually emerges bringing with it a new found smile.
Did you enjoy this post? Please share.