12 stages of life: Where are you?

A few years ago (in 2013), scientists claimed 72 is the new 30. The claim is based on the fact that healthcare and medicine is keeping us as healthy as any 30-year-old from antiquity. Seemed like good news to this old crone as I looked down the road at my 7th generation. But then last year, Georgia Dixon, posting on OverSixty.com, decided 70 is the new 50. Uh-oh. Losing ground here.

Maybe I should be examining the stages of life rather than chronological ages.

“All the world’s a stage” is the phrase that begins a monologue from William Shakespeare’s As You Like It. The speech compares the world to a stage and life to a play, and catalogs the seven stages of a man’s life: infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, justice, pantaloon and old age, facing imminent death.  It may be one of Shakespeare’s most frequently-quoted passages, but it’s not much help to me. These stages need further analysis.

I spent some time on the Internet and while Dr. Thomas Armstrong is no Shakespeare, he has done an outstanding job in describing 12 stages of life. Twelve is a number that gives depth to the complexity of life.  I especially like the one-word summary of the tasks he identifies as associated with each stage:

Pre-birth: Potential

Birth: Hope

Infancy: Vitality

Early Childhood: Playfulness

Middle Childhood: Imagination

Late Childhood: Ingenuity

Adolescence: Passion

Early Adulthood: Enterprise

Midlife: Contemplation

Mature adulthood: Benevolence

Late Adulthood: Wisdom

Death & Dying: Life

Imagine telling your amazing life story in 12 chapters. Each of these stages has such a optimistic theme. Yes, even the “last” chapter, for it brings us full circle. In Dr. Armstrong’s words, death teaches “us about the value of living.”  Dying reminds us “not to take our lives for granted, but to live each moment of life to its fullest, and to remember that our own small lives form a part of a greater whole.” In other words, fill that chapter with possibilities for the future as you like it… or, more precisely, as you’d like to see it.

Rather than struggle with holding on to our youth, let’s examine our lives for the gifts of each stage, and record our stories to share with humanity. Your life matters; your story is important.