Why is your second act better than your first?
Because you're better. You're better now than you have ever been.
Somehow, when we hit 30 we think life is over. How hard did you lament when 30 came - and went - in a blink? Were you one of those women who cried silently, inside, checked the mirror for gray hair and wrinkles, and started paying more attention to the anti-aging creams touted on TV?
We all did it, to some extent. Even those of us who didn't buy into the culture of America - the one that said women could only be beautiful if they were young, young, young. Much of that still exists today, but we're fighting it with bared teeth and clenched fists. Aren't we?
The biggest problem with the idea that women are (a) only beautiful until they reach 30 years of age, and (b) that beauty is a universal thing - blonde, for the most part, is that is makes women superficial. The idea that the way we look is what we are, is infuriating! It's insensitive. It fills me with rage!
And yet, I thrust it away and let it simmer because life - my life, and yours - is not about how we look. Yet, we are women. We prefer to age gracefully and often take outside steps to make that happen, but as we age, as we move onto 40 years of age (oh, 40 was glorious, wasn't it?), and 50 (who thinks as fondly of 50 as I? It was full on new adventure and life and excitement, wasn't it?), and into 60, very much headed for 70 and beyond (to that 100+ Life I talk about so much!), we grow in confidence, self-awareness, purpose, courage, temperance, and transcendence; all the things I spoke of in this week's Time for Books video book review.
We don't just accept our Second Act invitation, we eagerly grab it out of the Universe and wave it around for all the world to see!
"I am woman, hear me roar," was so long ago, it's a faded memory now. Today, we are "Warrior Women" and like Oveta Hobby, first director of the Women’s Army Corps, said, our cry today is: “Give me my sword!”
And, like the wonder women we are, we grasp that sword in hands made strong by years of work in the home and out of the home, carrying for children, our own and others, and making life a commitment, not a job.
It’s the journey that counts, we’re told.
And yes, that’s true. On that journey we may have thought our second act was always far off, pulsing on the horizon, sending beams of sunlight and the many-colored images of what was to come, like amazing stained glass we held in awe, but that second act was a part of us at 30, and 40, and 50. It was slowly being born – in our psyche.
It’s in our second act that we will truly live and accomplish those great things we only dreamed of in our 30’s. It’s in our second act that we truly understand the way we look – our face, our body, our soul – pieces of ourselves that were separate once and are now whole. Wonderfully whole!
It’s in our second act that the idea of failing becomes inconceivable. Oh, it’s not that we suddenly become brash (though some of us do! How delightful!), it’s that we KNOW what we know, and we have LEARNED how to get what we want, and best of all, we know what we want. In our second act, we won’t stop until we get it.
Your second act is always better than your first because it’s a rebirth with a memory.
In the book, How Remarkable Women Lead, February’s video book review series (Time for Books), author Barsh writes,
“Ownership is what psychologists call having an internal locus of control in your life. This means you believe your destiny is up to you. The opposite is an external locus of control, believing things happen to you regardless of your effort and behavior; events shape your life, not you.”
I lament that it took me so long to understand my ownership. I sometimes lay awake at night and listen to the humidifier, staring into the darkness. I don’t really notice tears slowly slipping down my face, but they do. I’m thinking. I’m wondering. I’m lost in yesterday, and what “could have been”, “if only,” and, like Marlon Brandon in On the Waterfront, I whisper into the darkness, “I coulda been a contender! I coulda been somebody!”
Those moments of pity are reserved for dark nights when my brain wanders down avenues of reflection. I shake them off before falling back to sleep, and I pull ownership back into my soul. Because, in the light of day, I know that I am master of my fate.
I am in my second act. I had a great first run. Oh yes, I did! I didn’t stand on the sidelines all the time, I stepped into the fray now and then, and gathered my wits about me, and keep the teachings fresh, to help me move through the fog of “growing old”, when growing old was a bad thing.
Not for me, that growing old thing. Not for me, that conception of age being debilitating and weak, relegated to the back bedroom.
Not for me the growing old that said I should accept my end of life gracefully, with a smile, holding out a gnarled shaky hand to my grandchildren, mouthing, “I love you!” silently because my teeth were on the bed stand, next to me.
I saw it. I saw that image. It frightened me a bit. But, I looked to my own mother, and I looked to women of substance around the world, and I looked into my soul, and I said, “That’s a fictional character. Society is the author of that character. I am not her.”
In my second act I am strong. I am powerful. I am lively and spirited. I hang around with other amazing women my age (50 -70 – the stalwart Baby Boomer Women) who are vigorous, vivacious, snappy, and animated.
And every one of them is so beautiful, it hurts the eyes to look at her.
So beautiful in the way she shines, like a star in a great blue sky.
So beautiful she radiates confidence, like a celebrated actress with a dozen Oscars.
So beautiful she moves about with grace and purposefulness, her movements effortless, her smile in red lipstick fearless, challenging the world to call her ‘old’.
I am in my second act. I am powerful and beautiful and desirable and more than all of that, I am smart, I am intelligent, I am accomplished, as never before!