“A human being would certainly not grow to be seventy or eighty years old if their longevity had no meaning for the species. The afternoon of human life must also have a significance of its own and cannot be merely a pitiful appendage to life's morning.”
Celebrating a seventieth birthday has been both a sobering event and a mighty celebration. For a child who almost didn't make it through her first year of life, it's a milestone that cannot be ignored. So, I've been thinking—as Virgos are wont to do—about the tasks of this developmental stage. Erik Erikson called it the years of either integrity or despair, depending upon how you have lived your life, and what you see looking back. To the extent you have led a meaningful life, and have made a valuable contribution, you feel contentment and fulfillment. If not, then you may look back and see only missed opportunities and bad choices and feel regret, or even despair. My own life has been like any other—not without its faults, its casualties and banalities, but having a large portion of grace mixed in. My son, Jake, said to me this week about his own life, which has definitely had its pitfalls and struggles, “Mom, I wouldn't change a thing. I wouldn't be who I am now if I hadn't been who I was then.” That about sums it up.
I think this life stage is about two things: giving back, and letting go. Whatever I have to give, I want to do it. And whatever I am holding on to, I want to let it go—especially if it is of a negative nature. As long as life can sometimes seem, it is too short to hold grudges. I don't want to poison the ground for anyone else.
Today is a good day. Let me not take that for granted. I hope it is a good day for you as well. In the words of the late, great Golda Meir: “Being seventy is not a sin!”
In the Spirit,