It’s Never Too Late to have a Second Adulthood

There is a bumper sticker that says: “It’s never too late to have a second childhood.” But I don’t want a second childhood––I’ve earned a more expansive and mature place in this world. I prefer to experience this next stage of life as my second adulthood. It’s never too late, as Joseph Campbell says, to follow our bliss.

I am determined to have a second adulthood as my daughter ventures out on her first. I turn 60 this summer and our only daughter leaves for college in the fall. Approaching this time as my second adulthood brings to mind how wide-open the world of possibilities are for each of us at any juncture of our (short and precious) lives. And it is a time to be even more generous with all the skills, wisdom and experience we have acquired over the years. We limit ourselves when we frame our life with “bucket lists,” “retirement,” and “empty nests,” taking on such culturally endorsed ways of approaching our life.

Our life is our story to write, and the third part of any book, when well written, is one you won’t want to put down.

“Restorying” our life late in life can be particularly challenging, but often more necessary. Routine, habit, and comfort play a big role in keeping us stuck in ways that may no longer serve us. We become accustomed to certain states and experiences. Or difficult emotions like regret and depression may arise as we confront our limits and mortality. Yet, something keeps calling out to us. Something inside nudges us to explore something yet uncharted. Each of us know stories of people recovering after decades of alcoholism, creating something beautiful in their nineties, or starting up a business or project in their later years. I have a friend who is accomplishing his dream of writing a book; he just turned seventy. A mentor of mine, Parker J Palmer turned 76 this past week. Parker J Palmer is a man who is a teacher, a mentor, a friend and a source of inspiration to many. He’s admired for his courage to live a life congruent with the ideas he writes and talks about—and he inspires us to do the same.

In our second adulthood we can live more generously sharing our resources with others as we follow our bliss. I look forward to longer meditation retreats while I explore my spiritual depths, helping people explore and write their stories, traveling with an adult daughter, kayaking with my husband, and of course, finishing my novel.

As I greet this great Unknown before me as my second adulthood I know there will be some surprises and unanticipated turns and offerings, just as was true in my first adulthood.

If you follow your bliss,

You put yourself on a kind of track,

which has been there all the while waiting for you,

And the life that you ought to be living is

the one you are living.–Joseph Campbell

Late in life is a perfect time to reflect on what is worth pursuing, what is worth giving our precious time and energy toward.

I invite us all to take time each day to reflect and celebrate on the life you created for yourself and others. Remember what you did with your first adulthood. We all have the capacity to open up to what is now possible in this changing landscape as children leave, spouses retire, and interests change. Take time to meditate and reflect on the beauty of life “as it is.”

Then give yourself permission to dream about the rest of your life, your second adulthood. And, follow your bliss.


Rae: [Anxious about Willy’s ability to clear the rocks in the

marina] “You ever see him jump that high?”

Randolf: “Things can happen.”   –Free Willy movie




134 thoughts on “It’s Never Too Late to have a Second Adulthood

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