The Art of Midlife: Courage and Creative Living for Women

By Linda N. Edelstein | Go to book overview

3
"GLOWING COALS UNDER GREY ASHES" Midlife

One hundred years ago, most women were dead by 45, so I figure everything after that is a second chance.

-- Julia Twomey

One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.

-- Simone de Beauvoir

Old age ain't for sissies.

-- Bette Davis

"Many -- far too many -- aspects of life which should also have been experienced lie in the slumber-room among dusty memories; but sometimes, too, they are glowing coals under grey ashes," wrote Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, describing the middle years.1

Midlife is a rare segment of life when we are able to see both behind us and ahead of us with a measure of clarity. We can see where we came from and what we have done. We can also see where we are going. Looking either way, we have years of adventures. Knowing that the days to come will be heavily influenced by today, it becomes important to protect an interval of time in which to examine and evaluate our lives, to look behind and release all that is finished, to look ahead and set our plans and attitudes in place for the balance of life. Adult development refers to the changes in psychological structure that occur due to involvement in adult events such as intimate relationships, reproductive choices, work experiences, selection of friends, decline and death of parents, and awareness of one's own mortality. Adult development is built on the past; in that way, it is historical. New structures emerge; in that way, it is also groundbreaking.2


WOMEN'S MIDLIFE HAS BEEN IGNORED

The largest segment of the American population is between forty and sixty years old, but midlife has been a remarkably understudied time in the lives

-31-

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