In the last few years we’ve seen an interesting trend: The “second career” has become a new buzz. People who have spent 20, 30, or 40 years achieving one thing then take up something
else. What used to be seen as retirement age is now seen, if the person wishes, as simply Phase Two. Rather than thinking of the second career as an anticlimax or “just a little something I do to stay busy,” people end up seeing the first, perhaps more flashy vocation as a prelude to something more important that they’re meant to be doing with their lives. They view what used to be considered the be-all and end-all of their professional trajectory as the means by which they learned the skills they’d ultimately need to make their biggest contribution.
The new midlife becomes a time when the sturm und drang of our more youthful years is alchemized into the highest manifestation of our talents: something useful not only to ourselves but to others. It might take ten years to discover how to build a business and then another ten to learn how to be the most compassionate human being—add ten more to find out how to be the best mate or parent, and somewhere around our 50s or 60s we’re ready to live our most shining lives.
A friend who embodies all of this has told me that people tell her she seems younger than her thirtysomething daughter. The daughter is more weighed down by a young family and all its accompanying demands, while the mother feels more lifted up in spirit. And it’s amazing how the body goes along.
From people who have hated their jobs for decades and now burst free at last to live their true calling to those who have loved their careers but still reach for something more meaningful in midlife or beyond, something is happening, making it clear to everyone that closing shop is not the pulse of this moment.
--- From The Age of Miracles: Embracing the New Midlife, by Marianne Williamson