The Second Half of Life – 6 quotes from Richard Rohr’s book – Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life

by Mark Votava

download (8)1. The supposed achievements of the first half of life have to fall apart

“We do not want to embark on a further journey if it feels like going down, especially after we have put so much sound and fury into going up. This is surely the first and primary reason why so many people never get to the fullness of their own lives. The supposed achievements of the first half of life have to fall apart and show themselves to be wanting in some way, or we will not move further. Why would we?”

2. Death is a threat

“Death is largely a threat to those who have not yet lived their life…”

3. Overly defensive and overly offensive

“In our formative years, we are so self-preoccupied that we are both overly defensive and overly offensive at the same time, with little time left for simply living, pure friendship, useless beauty, or moments of communion with nature or anything. Yet that kind of ego structuring is exactly what a young person partly needs to get through the first twenty years or so, and what tribes need to survive. Maybe it is what humanity needed to get started. ‘Good fences make good neighbors,’ Robert Frost said, but he also presumed that you don’t just build fences. You eventually need to cross beyond them too, to actually meet the neighbor.”

4. We really do find ourselves through one another’s eyes

“We really do find ourselves through one another’s eyes, and only when that has been done truthfully can we mirror others with freedom, truth, and compassion… It is all a matter of learning how to see, and it takes much of our life to learn to see well and truthfully.”

5. In the second half of life

“In the second half of life, you gradually step out of this hall of revolving and self-reflecting mirrors. You can usually do this well only if you have one true mirror yourself, at least one loving honest friend to ground you, which might even be the utterly accepting gaze of the Friend. But, by all means, you must find at least one true mirror that reveals your inner, deepest, and, yes, divine image. This is why intimate moments are often mirroring moments of beautiful mutual receptivity, and why such intimacy heals us so deeply. Thinking you can truthfully mirror yourself is a first-half-of-life illusion…”

6. All that you avoided

“In the second half of life, all that you avoided for the sake of a manufactured ego ideal starts coming back as a true friend and teacher. Doers become thinkers, feelers become doers, thinkers become feelers, extroverts become introverts, visionaries become practical, and the practical ones long for vision. We all go toward the very places we avoided for the last forty years, and our friends are amazed. Now we begin to understand why Jesus is always welcoming the outsider, the foreigner, the sinner, the wounded one. He was a second-half-of-life man who has had the unenviable task of trying to teach and be understood by a largely first-half-of-life history, church, and culture.”

Which quotes do you like the best?

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