Some might call it the “cocktail hour” of their lives, that in-between time, where nothing is expected or required which can easily be filled with drive-by chatter, bandied opinions, air-kissing, and little expectation save the gay froth of pastel-colored aperitifs and the tinkling of ice. Yet, that feels like skimming the surface.
Carl Jung, the Swiss psychiatrist, used the term “the afternoon” of our lives for these early senior years. I like that. I like afternoons. There is the possibility of a nap, the bulk of the day’s busyness has been completed, there are thoughts of dinner, and, best of all, the light shifts and changes. The afternoon does not seem so final; it holds so much comfort and possibility.
If we have reached the afternoon of our lives, we have experience. We have substance. We have gravitas. We have been around the bend. We know things. We have lived through the good, the bad, the ugly, and the ridiculous.
Life has stretched us in ways we never imagined. We have managed to get back on our feet when we thought we were too tired to move another muscle. We have rallied, supported others, held back, taken turns, reinvented ourselves, drawn a boundary, fought the good fight, and walked away from drama.
And now in the softly-lit liminal light of the afternoon of our lives, we can see the wisdom of our experiences, the perspective of time, and the understanding of our shared humanness in all of its dimensions. This kind of acceptance leads to a full and humble heart. We survived and we have so much, including great freedom at this juncture of life. Everything is less rigid and fixed. We are comfortable in our skins. We can straddle worlds of thought and oceans of heart. We can romp in gardens of play and mystery.
This afternoon of our lives might possibly be the cherry on the sundae of life. It can be the best of times — and the lighting is fabulous.