We had so much interest in last week’s column on the gift and joy of aging that we decided to carry on that theme this week and next.
Today, if you are reasonably healthy and moving toward or into your 60s, you have an excellent chance of living well into your 80s — or beyond.
It’s natural to think of life in the metaphor of the seasons of the year. Spring is our childhood and youth; summer is the full-warmth, long days of career and family; fall is the rich harvest; and winter is the shutting down of everything.
In this context of seasons, the “final fourth” is a bit dark and depressing.
It’s better, and actually much more accurate, to think of life in the metaphor of a calendar year with its four quarters.
For most of us in the northern hemisphere, January to March starts off dormant and slow and cold but takes on energy and independence as it melts and buds into maturity. The second quarter of April through June is a vibrant time of accelerated growth but also of unpredictable weather and uncertainty. The third quarter from July through September begins to produce fruit, but there are a lot of hot, tired dog-days in there, too, and so many duties and responsibilities that options are limited and ineffectiveness and frustration often creep in.
Then, beautifully, comes the final fourth of October through December — the cooler air, the vivid colors, the weed-free efficiency of the full harvest, the pleasant slowing down wherein more seems to get done with less effort and when family and friends seem to buoy and lift us at every turn.
It can truly be the quarter of bounty.
And it’s in this final fourth when we get the creative re-invention of Halloween, the deep satisfaction and gratitude of Thanksgiving and the joy and giving of Christmas. We begin to see the results and the final accounting for the full year, and we may receive attractive and sometimes unexpected year-end bonuses.
Indeed, we can, in our fourth quarter, re-invent ourselves, feel deeper gratitude than ever before, and have the joy of giving more to others than we have in the first three quarters combined — and therein lie the year-end bonuses.
If we wish for it and if we live for it, the final fourth can complete and cap our lives with the deepest colors, the sharpest contrasts, the best perspectives, the most freedom, the least fear, the most efficiency, the most confidence, the most purpose, the most stability, and the most peace and contentment.
So if you are in your final fourth, or approaching it, be glad about it. If you’ve got parents going into that stage, be happy for them.
Compared with a couple of generations ago, the mid-60s are really the new mid-40s.
After six decades, we can look forward to as much remaining quantity and quality of life as our grandparents could after four decades.
Now think abut that for a minute: People in their mid-40s have always thought a lot about the next 20 years of their lives, wondering and planning what they will do as their capacities and abilities peak. How blessed we are today to be part of the first generation that can think this same way in our 60s.
We can think like smarter, more seasoned, more experienced 45-year-olds.
Richard and Linda Eyre are New York Times best-selling authors who lecture throughout the world on family-related topics. Visit them anytime at www.EyresFreeBooks.com or www.valuesparenting.com. Their latest Deseret e-book is “On the Homefront."