Anne Morrow Lindbergh on growing pains

Sunrise (Nudgee Beach, Queensland, Australia)

Sunrise (Nudgee Beach, Queensland, Australia).
Image credit: Educated Earth

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? It is true that society in general does not help one accept this interpretation of the second half of life. And therefore this period of expanding is often tragically misunderstood. Many people never climb above the plateau of forty-to-fifty. The signs that presage growth, so similar, it seems to me, to those in early adolescence: discontent, restlessness, doubt, despair, longing, are interpreted falsely as signs of decay. In youth one does not as often misinterpret the signs; one accepts them, quite rightly, as growing pains. One takes them seriously, listens to them, follows where they lead. One is afraid. Naturally. Who is not afraid of pure space—that breathtaking empty space of an open door? But despite fear, one goes through to the room beyond.

But in middle age, because of the false assumption that it is a period of decline, one interprets these lifesigns, paradoxically, as signs of approaching death. Instead of facing them, one runs away; one escapes—into depressions, nervous breakdowns, drink, love affairs or frantic, thoughtless, fruitless overwork. Anything, rather than face them. Anything, rather than stand still and learn from them. One tries to cure the signs of growth, to exorcise them, as if they were devils, when really they might be angels of annunciation.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh in Gift from the Sea, (New York: Random House, Inc., 1991), p. 86. Originally published (New York: Pantheon, 1955).

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"For is it not possible that middle age can be looked upon as a period of second flowering"
Anne Morrow Lindbergh Posted on behalf of on Monday, July 5th, 2010 under Quotations.

One comment so far

  1. Beautiful. To face death is not only brave, but enlightening

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