That Second Half of Life: No one said it was going to be this way

Tears Of A Clown

Dec 14, 2011 by

This is awful. 

That’s what I thought to myself every few years, after I was over-50.  Now, I find out that I am not alone.

“Necessary suffering” is what Richard Rohr calls much of what goes on in the second half of life.  A Roman Catholic priest, Rohr recently published “Falling Upward.” Yes, suffering is a predicable a phase in life as we age as was adolescence after childhood.

During the first part of life, explains Rohr, we humans in theU.S.are preoccupied with getting ahead in a career, building the nest and a nest egg, and struggling with an identity.  Then comes the time of reflection about all that, plus, as the cliché goes, life intervenes.

We may find that we indeed get ahead in our professional life.  However, we -also realize that the ladder we climbed was placed against the wrong wall [image via Thomas Merton].  Or, the profession we love is gonzo.  Our soul-mate unbundles from us.  We don’t like who we are.  The money is not enough to retire.  And, most of all, we are clueless how to handle all this pain.

The trick is not to run from the pain, counsels Rohr.  Embrace it, look it over, and then figure out how to leverage it on our own behalf. Yes, it is a prerequisite to growth, both professional and personal.

The pain of the recent recession, once I stopped denial, has turned me into a top-notch marketer and a salesperson who closes.  Today, I nailed down an account with a major brand name auto company.  Of course, I’m still not a cheerleader for suffering.  The difference is that I no longer fear more pain coming.  That’s dumb, I now know.  The reality is: pain is our continual companion as we age.  That’s why we gain the reputation for wisdom.

Rohr’s thinking turns out to be the meme of the 21st century.  Another influential book is “Radical Acceptance” by Tara Brach.  The lesson is the same: embrace what is, including who we are or who we have become.  The funny thing is that, as Carl Jung observed, once we accept who we are, we can change.  Another is “Self-Compassion” by Kristen Neff. Since we are such suffering creatures, we better learn the hang of tending to ourselves, flaws and all.


About the Author

Jane Genova Has Written 24 Articles For Us!

I’m a coach, book author, and lecturer on careers, specializing in transitions. When I was 58, I restarted my professional life. That was in 2003. Since then I have I have muted into one of those renaissance folks who keeps multiple lines of work going. My latest book Over-50: How We Keep Working has helped thousands of people realize that exciting careers don’t depend on your age. I write four blogs: Jane Genova, Law and More, Career Transitions, Over-50.
Getting The Latest Tweet...
Did you know Jane has a blog? Go see what you're missing...
Share With Your Girlfriends and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • email
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Google Bookmarks
  • FriendFeed
  • LinkedIn
  • Posterous
  • Tumblr

Related Posts

Share This

1 Comment

  1. Rebecca

    Jane,
    I just read this and can relate for sure. I have just started my “Encore Career” as Executive Director of the Northwest Center for Creative Aging. (It’s just me and a board, but I am determined to make it well known.) I attended the Positive Aging Conference in LA last week and am very heartened by what I heard and saw. Mary Cathering Bateson gave the keynote and her new book, Composing a Further Life: http://www.marycatherinebateson.com/. She says we many of us are in what she is calling Second Adulthood.
    I love the books you mention, I read Radical Acceptance and foudn it very helpful. Maybe we should chat and see what we can cook up together.
    Rebecca

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.