“Trees are at their most beautiful in the Fall.”
My dear friend Peicho and I were discussing how at this season of our lives – mid fifties – we are the most free to express our unique truth. By now, we’ve enjoyed great adventures, fought and survived difficult battles and contributed to our world in meaningful ways. We understand our strengths and weaknesses, knowing where to push when to pull. We’ve dealt with most of our major issues and now our time is spent not on things, but on people.
In our fifties, we’re like the trees of Fall. We are at our most beautiful and valuable.
In our 20’s it was about survival. Our 30’s brought accumulation. The 40’s were focused on establishing and building. Now, in our 50’s, we must be about distribution: generously giving away our love, experience and knowledge. We are living resources for the following generations.
As I meditated on his beautiful comment and how apt it is for we Autumn People, it occurred to me that in Fall, after the beautiful colors, comes death. Leaves fall to the ground, fertilize the soil and eventually become food for the leaves of Spring. And so must it be with us: we must give ourselves to be encouragers and enablers for new and emerging generations.
Here are some ways that have worked for me:
- Look. Search for younger people you can share your love and wisdom with. Don’t only provide mentorship but more importantly, friendship.
- Listen. Be a caring sounding board. Actually hear their stories. Be creative. Your life experience is truly singular, so do it out of your uniqueness.
- Speak. It’s always helpful when the interaction flows equally both ways. Is there anything more lovely than human beings communicating with one another in meaningful ways? Speak the truth in love.
- Serve. Give your time and energy – and finances – to investing in younger people. Give away lessons learned, mistakes made, opportunities lost and victories won. And don’t be half baked about it. Time and life are too short. Pay for the coffee – even if you’re the “mentor”. Be generous!
An unlikely, beautiful community
A few years ago, I had the immense privilege and joy of befriending a group of Goth kids. Every Friday afternoon, we met for coffee at a local Starbucks and spent a couple of hours building an amazing community. Although outwardly they looked pretty intimidating, inwardly they were kind, caring, creative and incredibly funny. Every Sunday night we went to movies and I made a point of buying them gifts for their birthdays and also at Christmas. We became firm friends and spent seven years journeying together. I’m sure I learned more from them than they from me. A delicious fusion of Fall and Spring.
This was one of several experiences which helped me grasp, at the deepest level, that life is always fundamentally about friendship. Loving others and investing yourself into their well being and success. Look, listen, speak and serve.
It is only the farmer who faithfully plants seeds in the Spring, who reaps a harvest in the Autumn. B. C. Forbes