In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer. – Albert Camus.
In the spring of our lives, we hopped, skipped or jumped. Walking slowed us down. Handsome princes, fairy godmothers and Wiley Coyote shared the world with us. When we turned thirteen, our parents turned into ogres, we slept on orange juice cans, fought pimples with Noxzema and swooned over boys who didn’t know we existed.
Eventually we kicked the last of the eggshell off our feet and flew away into summer. We built nests and careers and morphed into ogres when the children turned thirteen. We struggled to find the pot of gold but never got close enough to the rainbow.
Middle age brought us autumn’s harvest. Our children flew into their summers, and we jettisoned philandering husbands. Busy re-organizing new lives and storing up for winter, we looked inside and met our spiritual selves for the first time. Together we studied art, planned gardens, wrote stories, traveled to dreamed-of places, and did whatever else we damned-well pleased.
Winter swaddles us now. Autumn stocked our nest with nuts and berries, warm blankets, savings bonds and social security checks. Unread books line the walls. Netflix delivers movies and operas to the doorstep. The Internet’s centuries of knowledge, wisdom and entertainment wait a finger click away. We no longer run or skip but walk slowly to savor all we see and hear and touch and smell. We laugh at our sagging bodies and the smile lines make beautiful wrinkles. We wear purple if we want, flaunt winter-white hair and some days wear pajamas until suppertime.
*Second childhood* means another chance to learn what we want to learn, dream what we want to dream and say exactly what we think about the world, not caring if anyone listens to us or not. Perfectly seasoned by the years on this planet, we feel at peace in our wrinkled skin. Not focusing on the time running out, we embrace the moment — the face across the table from us, the sunlight streaming in the window, the bluebird dancing through beams of sunlight, the owl hooting in the tree at the full moon’s rising above the horizon.
One day we will end, but we won’t mind. We had one helluva ride and screech across the finish line with hair on fire, excited to discover what really IS on the other side of that mysterious divide.