One of the books I'm reading for a second time right now, when I build my fire outside and sit curled in my blanket before dawn each day, is called The Second Half of Life by Angeles Arrien. It's actually the third time, if you count the first one when I didn't understand what this woman was trying to say at all. I slid it back into my bookcase, thinking, "Now, that's a strange book!" A few years later, I tried again. Arrien envisions aging as a journey through eight gates of wisdom, including folklore and customs from around the world in her metaphorical trip through those gates.
One of the verbal customs she mentioned, and one I immediately identified with, was that of intentionally experiencing something new each month for one year on one's birthday. Last year, I had my daughter take me out on a surfboard, which she found entertaining beyond words. I never did stand up on that surfboard, but I had a blast, totally unexpected since I don't swim very well and can't see a thing once my glasses are taken away from me.
After that, though, it was taxing to find things that I had never done (taking into consideration that there are things I would NEVER do, even under penalty of death, like jump out of an airplane, or things I can't afford, like go to Paris). So, my year of that experiment lasted a month, when I walked out of the ocean with the surfboard in tow.
But I'm reading the book again now. And I think I'm going to attempt that year-long journey of new experiences again. Arrien mentioned that part of the value IS that we have to be creative to find new roads to follow, and that's the whole point.
Then maybe time will slow down enough to savor the moments again, recapturing some of the newness of life that we take so much for granted when we're younger, growing and learning every day.
I'll start a list tomorrow as we usher in a new year, a list of potential new experiences that can reopen my eyes to the world as a source of joy and challenge. I'll keep you posted. Maybe I'll even take pictures. Stay tuned!
The second half of life is the ultimate initiation.....we are a sacred mystery made manifest. If we truly understand what is required of us at this stage, we are blessed with an enormous opportunity to develop and embody wisdom and character.