(Republished from The Fifth Chapter Blog, original date 8/4/11)
My group of friends and I find ourselves discussing our fear of entering the 5th Chapter more often than I would like to admit. We have talked about the various stages while we watch our children grow and our parents age.
1st Chapter: Fairy Princess/Super Heroes (Birth to Pre-Puberty)
2nd Chapter: The Wonder Years (Puberty – Young Adult)
3rd Chapter: “Way To Go!!” (Parenting/Career)
4th Chapter: Those Awesome Golden Years (Empty Nest – Retirement)
5th Chapter: Wise Ones (Activity Begins to Slow – Second Childhood)
None of us is looking forward to Old Age. Who really does? I keep trying to see ahead and imagine the best part of the 5th Chapter, even while being sure it has a good amount of agony. I hope it will be a time to savor the past; encourage others; and, find small ways to give and experience joy in the present. Those who avoid becoming mentally “stuck” in a previous chapter seem more likely to be better prepared for whatever lies ahead. Those who enjoy what life holds during each chapter, accepting the sweet with the bitter, seem to better handle what life offers during the 5th Chapter.
A short conversation with a next door neighbor’s 95 year old mother has taken a place of honor in my mind’s eye. She embodies the idea: “The present is the Present (gift)”.
She was out walking in the neighborhood leaning on her walker for a moment when I happened to see her. She told me “today, the Spirit moved me to go outside” while she lifted her arms to embrace the day. She is full of grace, kindness and an appreciation for life. Even though she lived through a Nazi concentration camp, losing her whole family, she is almost giddy with joy at still being alive. Her attitude is so refreshing because she remembers her past but embraces what she can enjoy today. She told me her “amusements” these days are to cook for her family and write short poems. I call them “amuse bouche” which is an incorrect use of the French term that means tasty morsels. See http://wordsmith.org/words/amuse-bouche.html for a definition. I like the term for her short poems, because she offered me a moment of “amuse bouche” while she shared her willingness to be available to the life she has today.
What “amusements” can you imagine might be part of your life during your 5th Chapter?