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60. Trailblazing in midlife? Or is all that behind us?
Is blazing a path a privilege of the young? What new paths can we possibly create in our middle age?
☕️ the main thing
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
It’s graduation season in the US. A perennial favorite, these words by Emerson must have been quoted in numerous speeches and written in countless yearbooks, inspiring thousands of young adults.
Ahhh. We still remember how that felt, don’t we?
Read in our 20s, Emerson’s quote tapped into our sense of adventure and idealism. The world, then, felt vast and full of possibilities — our oyster, so to speak. He stoked the fire of youthful optimism and fed our desire to make a difference and blaze a trail.
Seen with our midlife eyes, what do we make of these words now?
Middle age naturally (and necessarily) pushes us toward reflection and contemplation.
After all, we have lived a life. We’ve made our own paths, expressed our styles, spoken our thoughts, or tried our best, at least.
Our experiences have been the great teacher. We know firsthand now how it is to try and succeed — and how it is to try and fail. We know what it’s like to be sure and what it’s like to falter in that belief and to second guess ourselves.
So, what can we make of Emerson’s quote now?
Is it meant only for the youth, or is it still relevant? Can it still inspire us?
I think, yes.
I think, more than anything, it reminds us of our deep-seated desire to make meaning of our lives. To make a difference. To leave a legacy.
I am moved to consider expectations and stereotypes and the pre-ordained meanings of getting older and of aging.
And as it did when I was in my 20s, Emerson’s quote inspires me to blaze my own midlife path. To define what I want this half of my life to be about. And to act like the kind of midlifer I’d be proud to be.
Expectations be damned.
“Finding your purpose in living is more than a cliché: Learning how to live your life with purpose can lead to a sense of control, satisfaction, and general contentment. Feeling like what you do is worthwhile is, arguably, a significant key to a happy life. But what this means is different for each person.” 7 Tips For Finding Your Purpose In Life
“Worry is traditionally seen as a negative emotion. But is it possible worry has a positive function and that we just don’t tend to use it well?” Worrying Well: How To Bring Wisdom to Your Worries
📣 hear hear
“For there was a moment when anything was possible. And there will be a moment when nothing is possible. But in between, we can create.”
— Mohsin Hamid, British-Pakistani novelist
📖 a fine read
Midlife: A Philosophical Read
by Kieran Setiya
“How can you reconcile yourself with the lives you will never lead, with possibilities foreclosed, and with nostalgia for lost youth?” MIT Philosophy professor Kieran Setiya confronts the inevitable challenges of adulthood and middle age, showing how philosophy can help us thrive.
🎙 what’s playing
Intermittent Fasting with Laurie Lewis
We’re starting a new mini-series on the pod, all about Midlife Health and Well-Being. For the next several episodes, I’m joined by experts who can help us understand “what’s going on” that’s affecting health and well-being and identify action steps we can take to address them.
First up is a conversation with world-renowned coach Laurie Lewis about Intermittent Fasting. We talked about how this practice — which ISN’T A DIET — can help us with many of the health markers that typically get worse as we get older.
Laurie lays out the basics, clarifies what an “eating window” means, and outlines a quick way to ease our way into a fasting practice starting today.
💬 last word
I decided to do something I thought was going to be super challenging but ended up being easy!
What am I talking about? Skipping the cream & sugar and just drinking black coffee. I honestly thought I wouldn’t be able to do it. But it’s been a week now, and guess what? My world still rotates on its axis.
Does this resonate with you?
Not the drinking of black coffee. 😂 But making a change that you thought would be so hard but actually wasn’t?
Hit ‘reply’ or leave a comment and tell me about it! Let’s make this a 2-way conversation.
Here’s to an easeful week ahead, with or without coffee.