Lessons from the second half of life

March 12, 2015
long path cu Siracusa

Near Siracusa, Sicily

Life is a long, winding road and as much as we plan, we really can’t know for sure what’s around the bend.  One of the gifts of age is that a lot of the road now lays behind us, and with that experience, comes learning. So I’ll share some of my lessons from the second half of life.

1. You can’t always get what you want.
We’re taught to create our lives and that if we work hard enough, all our dreams come true.  We can do or be anything we want, we’re taught. Anything.

But the Rolling Stones were right: you can’t always get what you want.  Oh, I didn’t believe this for the longest time. Until the first time I didn’t get what I wanted.

But the Stones knew there was a corollary to that:

2. You always get what you need.
Well, yeah, we might not THINK we need what we get. We might not even want it.  But the Divine has its reasons and always gives us what we need, even if we don’t understand it.  Which is why…

3. It’s wise to look for the lesson.
No one deserves the bad stuff. But. Bad things happen to good people all the time. This has been the hardest thing for me to accept.

There has to be a lesson there, one that we’re meant to learn. And/or that those around us are meant to learn. Whether it’s acceptance, compassion, empathy, whatever.

We’re in Soul School and the path our life takes is set out for us before we draw our first breath. And we know all about it until poof! Our memory is wiped clean so we can live it out.

It’s smart to ask ourselves what we can learn from our situation, no matter what it is.

4. People can be stupid, mean, rude, crazy–fill in the blank.
That lesson again–theirs, ours, whichever.

5. But it doesn’t matter if they are. It has nothing to do with you.
Their craziness ain’t ours to own, so let’s not own it. 

6. No one is perfect, not me, not you.
So be gentle with yourself.  It’s all about the lesson, anyway.

What would you add to this list of lessons?


25 comments on “Lessons from the second half of life
  1. I like your list!
    I guess I’d add that people – all of us – are a work in process, and some people may be not quite as far along on their journey as I am, and to those, I need to remember where I used to be, and extend grace.
    And from those who are ahead of me, I need to take copious notes, and listen well.

  2. Very good list…I would add, to live life fully one day at a time…not worry about the future. I so aware that life is short and I want to experience as much as possible while I can. But living just today and focusing on just today, then I am more likely to do more and to enjoy it. Good post!

  3. I have lived my life by this motto and learned it over and over – “What goes around, comes around.” Now my grown children are living by the same motto.

  4. Angela Mager says:

    Such a thoughtful post! It is wise to use the lessons learned in life to redirect our choices. Unfortunately, I have repeated the same mistake MANY times. But, it does seem to happen less and less lately.

    To add to the list, I have learned that it is worthless to argue with anyone. No one is persuaded by force. There is much truth in the adage “you attract more bees with honey.”

  5. Mary says:

    This is a great list to read every morning! Everyone is is their own lane and sometimes we need to be a bit more empathic of those around us.

  6. Roxanne says:

    Great list of lessons learned (if we’re lucky!). I’d add that we can almost always find something to laugh about within the losses we face as we age, and it makes things so much easier to bear (especially if we can share the laughter with like-minded folks).

  7. Hi Carol!

    My primary lesson of my life is in complete agreement with all of yours! It is:

    You get to make it up!

    Any lesson that we each want to use and/or takeaway from life is as individual as each of us. We can choose to see it one way or another but in the end it matters most to us how we make it up so why not make it up in a way that brings us each peace, happiness and meaning?

    Thanks for the reminder! ~Kathy

  8. Very good list of life lessons! What would I add to it? That patience and perseverance will get you to your destination. 🙂

  9. Jeanine says:

    I agree with Sharon above, what goes around comes around is what I believe too. Really great list, I feel basically the same!

  10. These are all great life lessons that some unfortunately don’t ever learn. I like the idea that we are all enrolled in Soul School. 🙂

  11. Lovely post. Life lessons are sometimes very, very difficult.

  12. I would add that “No is one of the most powerful words in any language.” Oh, how many mistakes would I have avoided if I had just said no? Great post.

  13. Great post. Really made me think. The lesson I tried to teach my kids was two fold.
    “Life is not fair, so work hard.” and “Pick your battles, if it’s not worth losing the war over, why are you having a battle about it.”

    The second one has meant very few fights between my husband and myself. I have to really care about something to fight about it.

  14. Excellent list! I’ll add the one and only useful piece of advice my mother ever gave me: “If you lie down like a rug, of course you’re gonna get walked on.”

  15. What lovely life lessons Carol!

  16. Perfect advise Oh Wise Woman. I might add; know when/how to prioritize. You can’t give 100% to every damn thing. ANd… learn to forgive yourself.

  17. Ruth Curran says:

    Soul School — now that is so perfect.

    Wonderful list. I would add drop one thing. Come in to each situation with open eyes and an open heart. When you make assumptions — right, wrong, or indifferent — you will inevitably miss something important.

  18. K. Lee Banks says:

    As I approach the age of 57 in a couple of weeks, I like your blog post title about “Lessons from the second half of life.” Good perspective! I like your list, and think I would add that we can start fresh at any moment and apply the lessons we learned in the past to our present, to improve our future!

  19. Stephanie says:

    Such a great list! Thanks for sharing.

  20. Rosey says:

    It really is all about the lesson. 🙂 I think this is a great list that you’ve compiled and shared.

  21. amar naik says:

    i would wish to live my life for myself and complete any wishes that i could not complete in first half of my life.

  22. Bismah says:

    Wonderful list of life lessons! They are all so true and need to be reiterated over and over again especially the last one!

  23. Liz Mays says:

    I usually don’t see my lessons in the moment at all, but later I can look back and appreciate that there was one.

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