In her book Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh talks about our middle years as a time of shedding. She writes: "One is afraid. Naturally. Who is not afraid of pure space—that breath-taking empty space of an open door? But despite fear, one goes through to the room beyond."
And when we go through to that room beyond, we can be free. As Lindbergh says, "Perhaps one can at last in middle age, if not earlier, be completely oneself. And what a liberation that would be!" She asks, "For is it not possible that middle age can be looked upon as a period of second flowering, second growth, even a kind of second adolescence?"
And then being able to concentrate on our inner life, on who we really were created to be, much freer of masks and armor than ever before, we move forward far lighter—like the caterpillar that has been transformed into a butterfly. This may look like a withdrawal from the world, an isolation of sorts. But it's not really that, as Kathleen Fischer says in her book Autumn Gospel: Women in the Second Half of Life. "...a strong inner life enables us to move outward with fewer conflicts and greater clarity. It solidifies our sense of self and our values. It is difficult to really love others if we cannot love ourselves, and hard to love a true self that remains deeply hidden. What feels like emptiness inside us may be a self that we do not know, one that has never been loved."
Wow! These middle years and beyond are so full of promise. This is not a time for despair. A time for boredom or hopelessness. Adventure awaits. Take the journey through that open door—into the room beyond!