It was Carl Jung who first popularized the phrase, 'the two halves of life' and Richard Rohr took the idea much more in Falling Upwards . While you'd expect that getting older is linked to the second half, Rohr says that not everyone makes it through to life's second half, and that's OK. There are many change as part of the transition from first to second half and most people are quite satisfied to stay put.
While it's important that the first-half things are done well, many of those will not be required in later life as we move forward. Consider this example.
A pretty basic, first-half behavior is thrill seeking. While being a thrill-seeker was probably considered as being acceptable during our early years, thrill seeking has not seemed to matter much as we aged: the need to thrill (or seek thrill) had gone. You may recall the thrill experienced the first time you went for a ride on a roller coaster or ferris wheel. The thrill was short-lived, provided temporary exclusion, and soon disappeared or wrought-off when you backed up for more.
During the first half of your life, you might have been thrilled by your first day at university, or in your new job, or whatever. Day two and beyond, however, was quite different: the thrill was gone.
Times change, and so do we. According to my example, in the second half of our lives, the focus shifts from thrill-to-mattering. If matters interests you, consider these things.
- Building a positive sense of identity – who am I, really? (In the first half of life, ego played an important part, now it needs to take a backseat.)
- Increasing courage to make decisions that affect me – what do I have to fear?
- Becoming involved in what we regard as life's larger issues – what is it that I really care about?
- Becoming increasingly introspective – reconsidering any need to be 'out there'.
- Valuing authenticity – telling how you see it.
- Opting for simplicity – removing stuff.
- Enabling 'family' to become an even bigger deal – who really cares?
- Focussing on the getting of wisdom – what is it that I really believe in?
Perhaps TS Eliot was thinking about the two halves of life when he wrote, 'We shall not stop from exploration, and the end of all our exploration will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time'.