HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
How to Plan
a Great Second Second Life:
Why not live fully every day of your extra 30 years?
In 1900, the average life expectancy was 48. Now it’s 78, only a hundred years later. For most (of us), 30 extra years! What a wonderful problem!
So you’re 40 or 50, big deal. The only question that counts is “What are you going to do with your next 30 years?”
Your parents, certainly theirs, subscribed to the “declining philosophy” that said that from midlife on it was all downhill, that the party was over, dreams unrealized were just that. But today that’s as out of date as your prom dress, ball glove, or 8-tracks. People now don’t just curl up and die when they hit the 50-yard line. In fact, most bloom like never before. Better yet, they have the skill, strength, wisdom, and experience—sometimes even the money—to make their second half the joyous completion of what the first half prepared them to do.
We didn’t plan our first life, and when we hit the 40s and early 50s, when the gift kicks in, we have no plan for the extra years either.
Since ... you’ve only got the second half left, do you want to be planless your entire life?
This is a book designed to help you use your gift to its fullest by creating your own Super Second Life. That’s when the very best living takes place, or can. But for that to be so requires thought, some planning, decisions made, and some dreams dreamed and action acted.
The problem is what you think you see ahead: less
power, less beauty, less passion, less money, and less years.
You need better eyes. The truth is, the second half of your life will be better, more exciting, and much more in your control than the hard half you’re escaping.
Now you’ve got 30 more years and this time you are in charge. So why not take all those street smarts, school learning, and people skills and put them to full use to design the kind of life you want, then make that happen?
You will be asked a simple question: “If you had all the money, time, and energy you needed and were free from any outside constraints, what would you do in your extra 30 years?” From the answers, you create your own Dream List. What’s left is the defining and doing.
It’s your life and your last days. You get one life and a lot of last days. Why not look through new eyes and plan a new path, which likely includes much of the old path but cleaned up, straightened, and with a higher purpose? Why not make certain that what’s important, or exciting, or flat-out incredible is yours—by intent, not happenchance?
Why would you leave something as important as 30 years of your only life to fate, chance, or fortune. Or, worse yet, your memory!
Why wouldn’t you congratulate yourself for all of the good things you’ve done, take a long look at the what you’ve yet to do, dip into your dream bag to see what more you could add to the roster, factor in your health and coffers, touch base with your mate, then put all that down on paper, creating a clear map of where you intend to go to finish the journey that was earlier interrupted (by sex, confusion, frustration, mayhem, at least one incredibly daft boss, and bad music) but is now open to completion?
“Here we are, feeling fine, looking good, full of ginger, all bucketed up and historically with no place to go.” May as well mortify the kids and do what we want when we want. The meter’s ticking. If we plan it right, we can be a constant 30-year mortification machine.
Planning and choice, then, is what this book is about. Plan and choose how you will best use this 30-year gift; how you will keep your body and mind tuned and in control of a life loved and fully lived.
If we ever began with a tabula rasa—that famous
blank slate upon which our history is written—it is brim full by the time
we’re 40 or 50, with squiggly notes on the sides and a couple of Post-Its
wagging off the edge.
We’ve managed to cram in more living in the first half of our lives than we imagine or give ourselves credit for.
The most important is a no-nonsense look at what we did in our first life. More than another résumé, it is our own listing of what was important, what we learned from it, what we want to discontinue now, what we want to take with us into our second life, and, after looking at all that, what comes to mind that would add joy and worth to our coming years.
It’s your time.
These are the only last years you will ever have. Why waste them? And why try to live somebody else’s life at the expense of your own? It’s not only impossible, it’s a huge waste of your happiness and your potential.
The(se) are the only days you will ever have. At any age, sitting around waiting for life to lead you somewhere is still just sitting around. You need a plan for what you will do for the rest of your life: your own plan.
You can determine what’s important to you and to those you love. You can select what you’d like to learn more about, or see, or experience. You can decide who gets your primary attention, who you want to help, what causes are sufficiently important to deserve your support and promotion, where you want to live, how you can make your life part of a better city, group, or universe—whatever you want!
Most of us did little or no true planning up to this point. Oh sure, we made spot decisions when required, and planned for short trips and how to invest or which car to buy, but full, detailed life plans are about as rare in those under 40 as teeth in worms.
Am I suggesting a Super Second Life without love,
sex, or even rock-’n-roll? Why go on? Pass the vial. What could possibly
Real love, real sex, and maybe real music.
The hardest period for most of us is from 40-55, when a mindset honed in our earlier years to create adulation from peers and gratification any old way is suddenly the wrong notes to the wrong tune. We’ve outgrown the foolishness. We’re dancing fools one day, regular fools the next.
We’re crossing the Rubicon that separates our youth
from our mature second life. We alone carry our future baggage, on tired
shoulders and aching knees. We cross but once, so things must be left behind.
Here we make choices or we are left behind, a graying, anxious impostor who refuses to make the tribal cleansing required to become an elder.
We must be kind to ourselves when we look back at the moon surface of our past. We must delight in the peaks but not dwell unduly long on the depths and prairies. Some of the less delightful sites had very little to do with us. From what we did wrong or could have been done better—the dumb choices, those secret caves of cowardice, the missed opportunities—we must learn the lessons they teach, then forget them. Nobody gets through the first 40 or 50 years unbruised. We must clean the slate as best we can. We get a second chance in a Super Second Life.
That leaves us with the question, What do we leave behind as we begin our second life journey? Old thinking about the role of our appearance. Dressing to try to resurrect that “old you,” or a you that you wish had existed. Clothes and body decoration that is blatantly inappropriate for who we are. Body deformation in the name of beauty.
Perhaps the hardest part of having power and status is knowing when and how to give them up—or to stop trying to retain them.
Romantic love is the opposite of true love but sometimes a conversion takes place when the sex cloud lifts and we get to truly see and like the unique person we grabbed in passion and mated in haste.
We probably have more opportunity to be our fullest and best selves during our second lives, when the rages of youth abate and wisdom (or at least experience) alights.
We’re standing in the middle of the bridge between youth and age, having seen mortality—our own—on the horizon, a horizon that doesn’t look all that far away
In an ideal world, we would spend the first 20 or so years playing and learning, the second 20 applying that learning and the lessons from that playing to developing and mastering a vocation, and the last 40 or 50 integrating all three—play, learning, and work—into a grand finale.
When we speak of a second life, aging, and health, we need a set of overriding ground rules. One, we are mortal. Two, it isn’t a sin to die, but it may be not to live.
On these pages we talk about 30 or more years of a super life. Thirty years is the time, in reverse, that it took you to have kids and settle in a job, get married, finish your education, raise hell in high school (or wish you had!), play ball, steal your first kiss, get lost in the museum on a school trip, memorize all 50 (or 48) states, learn to ride a bike and swim, take your first school bus ride, play with your brothers and sisters, and be your parents’ fat-cheeked, gurgling pride!
Our lives are at stake here. Without asking, we’ve been given a gift of 30 extra years. It’s up to us to figure out what we’re going to do with that gift. Ignoring it seems, at least, ungrateful. And with a plan, we can extract many more drops of delight and share many more touches of love.
Since you had the wisdom to buy a book telling you
how to create a “Super Second Life,” not only are you going to be ready
to leap into your new body and mind to enjoy your second journey, you’re
also going to be able to extract every last drop of joy from it.