The passage of time can be subtle, but this year has given me a new perspective on the “season” of my life. As we approach each milestone in our life, we are typically surrounded by our peers who are experiencing similar challenges and successes. This year it finally hit me that I am truly “middle aged”, and it wasn’t because of the lines on my face, the challenges of the middle age spread, or my oldest child turning 18, it was because four of my dear friends lost a parent. We are at an age in which we say goodbye to those who have raised us and prepare to be the next in line to face the challenges of aging gracefully and coming to terms with our mortality.
Colin Turnbull, the well respected British anthropologist outlined “the rich diversity of human society for the life patterns we all share” in The Human Cycle. He categorized each “life pattern” into the following:
Childhood: The Art of Becoming
Adolescence: The Art of Transformation
Youth: The Art of Reason
Adulthood: The Art of Doing
Old Age: The Art of Being
I find it interesting that he defined adulthood as “the art of doing”, and by “doing” he is referring to being active and productive members of society by working, raising a family, as well as taking care of aging parents. At times the “doing” phase can be overwhelming, but it is also the most productive phase of our life. We’ve raised children, developed a meaningful career and assisted our parents move through the “art of being”.
As we move through each of these patterns, we need to take the lessons learned to live the most meaningful and productive life possible.
To my dear friends who have lost a parent this year, my heart goes out to you.