By Sabrina Roblin
“Most of us tend to think of the second half of life as largely about getting old, dealing with health issues, and letting go of our physical life…What looks like falling can largely be experienced as falling upward and onward into a broader and deeper world, where the soul has found its fullness…”
– Richard Rohr, Falling Upward
I couldn’t have said it better than the quote above from Richard Rohr in his book, Falling Upward which is dedicated to the spiritual aspects of the second half of life. Some falling apart of the first half of life is necessary to embark on the second half. This transition takes courage, patience, and imagination. It can also demand that we embrace a measure of pain and grief for all that we have to let go of from the first half of life – children who launch into the world, a career well built, work colleagues, the body as we’ve know it, the structure of the known, all for the embrace of what’s next, which can be the delightful dessert of life.
People who come fully into their second half of life have a glow and light about them that is unmistakable and they are inspiring to be around. It’s a paradox that in the falling away of the first half of life and all that we have created in it, we have the opportunity to come into the fullness of our soul’s expression. Our Western culture doesn’t support this transition or talk about the depth and beauty that is available there. It supports the building of a successful life, looking good, doing it right, and the tough individualism of the American way. We see it reflected in the media every day.
One of the best kept secrets of the soul is that the way down is actually the way up. When we fall through loss, transition or suffering, we have the opportunity to fall into meaning, purpose, service to something greater than ourselves, gratitude, and an authenticity that is hard to connect to when things are going well and we’re busy with all that the first half of life demands.
We can’t speak of the soul without talking about the mystery at work in the background of our lives that comes to the fore and demands our attention. When our parents are gone and we’re the next one in line to cross over into the mystery of death, our lives can feel quite different. If we stay present to it, there is a deep gratitude for each day of living and the many small and simple blessings we experience every day – time with a friend, a beautiful sunset, a good meal, a creative endeavor, time contributed to something greater than ourselves.
There can be a tendency to want to hold on to structures of the first half of life, to mask the fears surrounding the loss of youth and the journey into the unknown. If we hold back and keep ourselves from falling into that mystery, we can lose the opportunity of experiencing that dessert of coming into our fullness.
So, how do we embrace the soul’s journey into fullness? Whatever your spiritual beliefs and practices, embrace them. Stay connected to your courage, patience and imagination. Be swift to express love and acknowledgement; offer your gifts, talents and experience to the betterment of humanity and the planet; be creative; try new experiences; stay present to your joy, grief and pain; surround yourself with the people and projects that you care about; hold a place for the unknowable mysteries of life; and let go of what has been. You will fall into the great comfort and blessing of a peace and fulfillment that will spill into your whole life.
To find out how Life Reinspired programs can support the individuals of your organization with a meaningful transition into the second half of life, click here.