I. THE THIRD TRIMESTER OF LIFE…It ain’t over til it’s over
Turning 60 freaked me out. Now I’m 61…WTF??? Why doesn’t anyone tell you how blazingly fast life goes? I greeted each decade change with the feeling that I had time. When I turned 60, I realized the escalator was only going one way…down. My mother is 89 years old. If I live to be her age, two-thirds of my life was down the tubes. One-third left. Wake-up call. Along with these aha thoughts, changes in my work and my home compelled me to think how I wanted to spend the third trimester of my life ( if I was lucky enough to live until 90). Had circumstances in my life remained the same, even the dreaded 60 may not have prompted scrutiny of my last trimester, however, changes happened.
II. CHANGE & OPPORTUNITY…Journey to the right side
In the last five years, many people’s lives, and who and what they thought they were, have dramatically changed including my own life. Unexpected change causes emotional upheaval, but also an opportunity for serious reflection about the next step. I thought about what I loved…writing, photography, stories, music, nature, beauty, reading, solitude, exercise for mind and body, life-long learning. I returned again and again to creativity. My adulthood had been dominated by my left brain, leaving my creative right side of the brain a weak, flabby appendage. Was I creative? What does creativity mean? If you don’t use it, do you lose it? I had been the family photographer for years, chronicling every Thanksgiving and Christmas and other important events. I also enjoyed journal writing as a way to preserve a moment in time, and as a release for vicious words and thoughts I could not utter in public. Photography and writing, I decided, would be the focus of my creative journey. Classes and reading were to be my initial guides. The more I read, the more I became fascinated by creativity and aging. Eric Maisel confirms the creative spark as universal, but suggests the light is extinguished as we are socialized and transition into adulthood:
…[We] all have this [creative] ability…but…the unfortunate training [of socialization]…turns stubborn meaning-makers into self-estranged adults willing to accept the self-imposed exile of an uncreative life.
Maisel goes onto describe how we fall into a pattern of being as we grow to adulthood without awareness or reflection:
Moving through life as an imposter, knowing at some point that you’ve been living an inauthentic life–that you have bumbled from one point to another without thought.
The idea of bumbling from one point in life to another, without much thought, rang true for me. I proceeded through much of my life guided by principles and symbols that gave me a structure and the appearance of free will. This worked for a long time and then it didn’t. I ignored warning signs that started in my forties and continued in my fifties. As circumstances in my life changed and began to undermine its structure, combined with turning sixty, the jig was up. I was on my way to my personal “To Tell the Truth”…who is the real Donna Gae?