the third  chapterI don’t think that my later years are going to be a time of leisure. For one thing, who can afford it? Plus, my generation is likely to live longer and healthier than previous generations, so the thought of treading water for 20, 30 or 40 years isn’t particularly attractive. Friday night I tuned into Bill Moyers’ TV program to listen in on his conversation with Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, sociologist and professor at Harvard. She’s promoting her new book, The Third Chapter: Passion, Risk, and Adventure in the 25 Years After 50. Lawrence-Lightfoot describes the third chapter as the most transformative time of our lives. I took the following notes during the conversation—ideas that struck a chord with me that I want to explore with deeper thought. Perhaps there are key insights that may be found to help us shatter the staleness we fear as we navigate our third chapter.

● The third chapter is the penultimate of life stages and most transformative time of our lives, often a time of passion, risk and adventure.
● Burnout is really just boredom.
● At this stage people fear stagnation.
● Renewing curiosity is most important; it often gets dampened or muted during our school years.
● There is a beauty, wisdom and energy at this age, and people are anxious to take up the challenge of doing something meaningful.
● Learning at this stage is generally creative and collaborative, and there’s a willingness to learn from failure. This likely is contrary to how success was portrayed in our school years as singular, competitive and characterized by self-assurance.
● We’re more open to doing things slowly rather than rush, rush, rush.
● This stage is more reflective and meditative.
● We have the self-confidence and restraint to know when to listen, witness, observe and move forward.
● At this age, we’re interested in cross-generational pollination, encounters and discourse.
● There’s a sense of urgency at this age that is tempered with patience, curiosity, courage and forthrightness.
● We have a capacity to innovate, and do more with less by combining resources and collaborating.
● At this age, we’ve learned that when faced with a crisis, we can move forward and progress, or regress.
● Lawrence-Lightfoot also talked about giving forward—a way of serving society that is contemporary and meaningful.sara

In the book, Lawrence-Lightfoot talks with 40 people about their third chapters. Since one of the reasons I started this blog was to banish staleness and open myself to possibilities, I plan to read this book. Perhaps I’ll learn something and be stimulated by new ideas. What does the third chapter of life mean to you?

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