Most of us will find it difficult to live on purpose in the second half of life unless we contemplate the big picture—unless we recall the first half and reflect upon who we were and how that affects who we are in this new phase of life. Unfortunately, such reflection takes time, something many of us have little of. Reflection, it seems, is becoming a lost art in a world driven faster and faster by new technology and globalization.
But we can't really live purposefully until we know ourselves. And this means we must—at least occasionally—find some way to hit the pause button, to still ourselves and contemplate the big picture, the overall scheme of things.
One way to do that in context of the flame of identity is to look at your life from the far end of it. Imagine, for instance, you are looking back over your life on the occasion of your 90th birthday.
You have chosen to celebrate your 90th birthday by gathering around a fire with your dearest friends, family members, and colleagues. If you could throw a log on the fire for each time you made a significant difference in the lives of those assembled, would you have a bonfire or a flicker?
The people gathered have requested that you share a few significant stories from your life. Which ones will you choose? What makes those stories special to you?
Think over the events, experiences, and happenings of your life in terms of throwing logs onto your 90th birthday fire. As you do so, reflect on how the following have helped fuel your fire:
Music, literature, and art
Spirituality and religion
Education and lifelong learning
Vocation and work
Play and recreation
Friends and colleagues
Family and spouse/life partner
Your own parents and their aspirations for you
What will you do with the second half of your life so that your birthday at age 90 will be celebrated with a roaring fire?