Conflicting Narratives

I spent my weekend reading books on the transitions of midlife.

I look forward to discussing them in detail at Wiser by Choice this Friday — you’d be welcome to join us at no cost if you’re curious and would enjoy a deeper dive. There’s some very good stuff to chew on, even for those not in midlife.

For now, I want to highlight three themes that struck me.

The first is that midlife experiences are so varied that I wonder if it is meaningful to generalize about them at all — and yet having others to talk with about your experience is immensely valuable.

The second is that even within one person’s experience, the emotional ride of midlife is a roller coaster — very much in the both/and, “bittersweet” genre than in a clear, single valence category of “awesome” or “terrible.”

The third is this: we often make space for narratives in our heads (and lives!) which, if spoken aloud, we would never attest to believing.

Ageist storylines are one example of this, and I realize I’ve come a long way in noticing them this year. I remember standing at Modern Elder Academy in early February with Chip Conley, wondering aloud if I actually believed my best years were behind me after all. Since then, I’m paying closer attention to other negative mindset moments related to the third quarter of my hundred-year life, and actively trying to reframe them.

I’m heading back to MEA next week for a dose of awe and wonder with Dacher Keltner. It’s an exciting way to bookend my year. By next week I’ll be able to tell you a bit about what I’m learning, but also about what I’m about to unveil. It’s been germinating since my first visit to MEA — where the possibility of becoming a “midlife midwife” was born in me so it seems a fitting moment for the ‘big reveal’. You might hear more about it before I hop on the plane — watch this space!

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