It’s been said that our years under thirty are the era of intensity (of learning), that from ages 30-50 we are in the era of engagement (of contribution), and by the time we arrive in at age fifty we are in the era of humanity (of legacy). Each era through the lifespan is of inherent value. Let us not despise the young or disdain the old. Each is trying the very best that they can to do what they feel is the work of their current purpose.
That said, let’s investigate the inherent value of each era as a uniquely valuable epoch of personal discovery, fulfilment, and legacy.
Robert Bly, in his classic, Iron John: A Book About Men (1990), stated that every man needs to go through the phases of red intensity and white engagement before he ultimately graduates into black humanity, which is the swallowing of his shadow; those bad parts of himself, through some sort of fruit of the Spirit, which is wisdom, self-restraint, the patience proffered of longsuffering, etc.
I think this stands for us all – male and female; nobody who seeks to become their best version of themselves – that disciple of Christ they were born to become – can esteem life to the level of abundance unless he or she has endured that red intensity of learning and humiliation, and that classic whiteness of engagement. Too many it seems skip the red and go straight to white – kids who grew up free from struggle. Too many never move on from red and remain children, even in adult bodies. And, further again, too many do their red time and move into the white, but remain there as in deer stunned silly by the headlights of life bearing down.
Undergo All Epochs
We must travel the full experience of each epoch – red first, white second, black third and last, remaining black for the rest of our natural lives.
Any age we are we should appreciate those in the red epoch. Life will be messy, there will be the learning and the failing to grasp responsibility, and there is trouble in this period. The white epoch is classically the clean mature person, but still with junk inside. This person appears polished, but the person themselves knows the truth. They need the rugged abandon of the black that doesn’t care about the reputation – in some ways a return to red, but with an important condition: truth is no longer feared.
The person fully involved in the black epoch is the true disciple of Christ with their years of maturity in tow – presumably they are at least 35, but usually they are much older than that. They have no need to protect themselves. They fear nobody, only the Lord.
We begin life by learning; we contribute, and then leave a legacy. These are important epochs. We become the best of ourselves when we willingly engage in all these epochs.
We are trusted for the truth we live.
We are respected for the integrity we have.
We are liked for qualities of fullness in our personalities.
We’re considered mature when we are no threat and cannot be threatened.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.