With the last meeting of my North Seattle College course, "From Midlife Through Retirement: A Path Forward" coming up, one student wrote me a note last week to say, "Tonight is my last class. I will be pursuing the arts next week in Los Angeles. Thanks for the inspiration and encouragement to continue growth." Normally, a student who stops attending would be a disappointment, but for her, I cheer her on! Hooray! She found her path, and her energy is flowing. Life is getting interesting once again for her. She exudes energy and a certain brightness.
She had suffered multiple challenges in a short period in her life, and she was at a crossroads when she came to class, willing to explore, like others, how to shape a "path forward" from this point in life. In class we have been talking about what matters at this particular point -- the second half of life is different, after all, but few people understand how and why; and consequently, its importance and value to us is dimmed and diminished in our society. But in class, we take time to rethink our values and goals, and align them to actions that help create a more meaningful, satisfying future. I asked everyone only for one action area to start implementing change. Typically, one action area is all that can be addressed in a short course, and it is sufficient -- like a stake in a sheet of ice, it's sufficient to create fractures, which in turn become new pathways for change, movement, and action over time. And this was more than enough to get her moving. Her action item was to get closer to the creative life that she needed and craved -- something that had been put on hold for years as she tended to others in her life. She needed just enough insight and motivation to spur her to action. Going online, she soon found an art tour she wanted to go on, and booked it.
I know that she and others who have registered for the class are already subconsciously on their path towards change anyway; otherwise, they would not be in my class. But she took the challenges posed in class to heart, and she took flight. She was ready. I hope she soars. As Helen Keller says, "No one should consent to creep, when one feels an impulse to soar."
She wrote later to say there's more to add to the story, which she'll share with me later, but she closed, "It’s all about being open – and the gift of being in the flow. Magic is everywhere… If eyes and heart are open." Yup, and that's why I'm offering this class, to help people find that "flow" for themselves. Of course, it is not guaranteed, nor can "flow" or serendipity be willed. But it is true, "Chance favors the connected mind." (Steven Johnson)
It is not easy sometimes to let go and try new things, or to place ourselves on the cutting edge of experimentation, or creativity, or commitment to something different. We may even feel uneasy about accepting the hard work that comes with change. But that's when life really becomes interesting and fulfilling. That's what Helen Keller must have meant when she said, "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."
Thoughts for creating success in the second half of life.