I was recently interviewed by a large magazine on the topic of the stress of big birthdays. The contributing editor and I had a delightful conversation, in which I actually disagreed with most of the premises of his questions.
When he asked about “stress,” I explained that this term is over-used, and blocks recognition of how lucky we are that life is often challenging. The demands of living energize and focus us to try harder, think deeper and smarter, and resist distractions.
And to his question on “aging,” I explained that time is flying past for everyone, and our path through our years is better termed “growing” than aging.
To his question about “youth oriented culture,” I explained that this is classic cherry picking. That is, people past age 50 might envy the physical strength and beauty of the 25 year old, but no one would want to give up the skill, wisdom, financial stability, or joy of parenthood that hopefully come with middle age.
When he asked about the “shock” that might come from turning 40, 50, or 65, I said it is a blessing to be roused from the slumber of daily routine, and prodded to take a deeper look at what we are, what we want, how we are living, and where we want to go with the rest of our days.
In reply to what about a “crisis” caused by hitting a big birthday, I explained that we are all constantly in transition from our most recent micro-stage of life, and into our next. Therefore, we are constantly negotiating the three frontiers inherent in every transition: processing the emotions, identifying the new skills required, and doing the work to master those skills.
Our job is to grow our way through life, by constantly learning. Get to work!
“My passion is ensuring that every adult is mentally ready to succeed in all transitions that comprise the adult years. The meaning in my life comes from helping my patients see themselves, their situation, their future, and the entire world with new eyes and a newly courageous attitude.