• Maggie Wheeler

Our Whole Lives

Photo by Immo Wegmann on Unsplash

When we were much younger, we often heard the term “your whole life ahead of you” applied to different situations we were dealing with. We were advised to not do this or to do that, warning or encouragement, but it usually ended with “You have your whole life ahead of you.”

I do use it myself from time to time with my children. They are young adults now and running their own lives. But sometimes perspective is needed (or better yet asked for!). And that truth comes out of my own mouth at some point.

With our generation moving through our fifties and toward our sixties, we are at that time of life when we no longer think of time ahead (our whole lives). We are making the shift of looking at time left. It’s a natural change. The generation that took care of us and managed society is now aged and in need of our support. We have elderly parents, we are losing our previous generations, and we are becoming the top rung on the demographic ladder. For some, we are facing the first time of being without parents. And we are beginning to lose peers. It is no longer something unusual or odd. It just is.

Some of the fallout is to review and remember our lives, going back to a time when we still had our whole lives ahead of us. I think of all the souls that moved through my life and are now gone, either physically or just no longer in my life. I think about all the energies used and plans made. I think about the human living done in my sphere and my soul.

Sometimes I do get sad about the times and people now gone. But I don’t allow myself to stay in the past too long. I count my blessings and come back. And something I have always basically understood and agreed with has deeply moved into my older awareness this week.

Perspective is not important only for the young. It is just as important for us, too. Why? Not just to evolve and appreciate what we have had and now have but also to fully realize that the old adage is still true: We have our whole lives ahead of us.

When we were younger, we had the assumption of many decades to live through. The assumption but no guarantee. We were at an earlier point on the life spectrum according to statistics, but the reality was that we did not and still do not know how many years our whole lives will actually encompass. Life happens. Tragedies and accidents happen. Illness happens.

Those of us still here after all these years are still at a point on the life spectrum. We’ve moved along, we’ve put some years under our belts, and we’ve evolved as we’ve grown. But nothing else has changed about the reality of our perspective. We are still facing our whole lives ahead of us—what life will give. And what we will take.

The challenge with this realization is to remember what it felt like so long ago, what it meant to us to have our whole lives ahead of us with trials, tribulations, fears, doubts, excitement, anticipation, and wonder. Explorations to make, plans to try, people to meet. Wondering who we were going to become. It’s all still there and we need to be fluid in our thinking to allow it back in the way it should be.

I just took a walk around my neighbourhood, to get some fresh air. The early spring promised us by both Phil and Willie (Thanks, guys!) is on its way. You can feel it. Granted, this is still February and in this neck of the woods we have all of March to get through. But something is different out there today. The wind is still cool but the sun is no longer a winter sun. It’s a spring sun. Something has shifted.

And something has shifted in me. Yes, I have been doing my homework attached to the approaching 60 milestone—joining the gym, putting my house in order, chatting with the Feds about CPP options. I’m a big believer in doing your homework. But now it’s important to also do what I call “unhomework.” Moving away from the familiar and expected to reunite with the perspective of long ago. The questions, the roads less travelled, the experiences waiting, the people up ahead. Wondering who we will become. In the coming weeks, I will open the windows of my house to let in the early spring. I will also open the windows of my life to let in the uncertainties and wonder of living return. Having spent five decades nailing Life to the wall, I am setting it free to roam again. And I’m going to follow.

I have no idea where this will lead going forward. But I know I will figure it out.

After all, I have my whole life ahead of me.

Talk next week,


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