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Mid-Life Crocus

March 25, 2011 3 comments

CrocusesIs there any vision more hopeful than a crocus triumphantly pushing forth from the icy soil of a New England garden in March?

This year, as I witness the magic of new life advancing out of the retreat of winter, I am thinking of the many people in my life who are surprising themselves with their capacity for fresh starts and new learning—regardless of how many birthdays they’ve clocked.

In her book The Third Chapter: Passion, Risk and Adventure in the 25 Years After 50, Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot shares the uplifting stories of forty men and women between the ages of 50 and 75 who, far from regarding this phase of their lives as a time of deceleration, have discovered new channels for learning and growth (see her talking about it with Bill Moyers).

Noting the hushed and “confessional tone” that her interviewees often adopt when talking about their blossoming passions, Lawrence-Lightfoot wonders whether “somehow, we feel that people our age should be consolidating our experiences, integrating all that we’ve learned and accomplished, and resting on our laurels—not engaging in risk-taking projects, embarking on unmapped adventures, and enduring the awkwardness and vulnerabilities of new mastery. Maybe we even feel it is somehow undignified to be so childish in our enthusiasms and eagerness to explore new domains of knowledge, recover ancient passions, and try on new roles and costumes.”

There is something of the crocus in these Third Chapter adventurers as they start new careers, adopt new personal development processes and uncover the writer or potter or chef or storyteller that has lain dormant within them all this time.

With delicate yet assertive gestures, they are finding ways to give expression to the surging life force still constantly renewing itself in their hearts.

What’s blooming in you?