The conversation began in the most unexpected of places, smack between the rows of celery and peppers in my local grocery store.
“So have you made a mark in your life… have you made a difference?” he asked.
It completely caught me off guard, as I wasn’t expecting to discuss the meaning of my life in the vegetable aisle.
But it got me thinking. I could hear Peggy Lee posit “Is that all there is?” as dreams of youth seem illusory and we begin to re-examine our values, goals and relationships.
Instead of looking forward, one looks backward and begins to take stock. There is an awareness of finitude and one’s mortality.
Renowned psychoanalyst Carl Jung described the task of the second half of life as being more introspective.
Searching for a deeper, contemplative life and moving away from materialism towards finding deeper meaning.
There is an upside, though. Jung sees midlife as an opportunity for combining the physical descent with a spiritual ascent. One is free at last for spiritual growth.
Spirituality is defined as the human search for fulfillment and the search for meaning that arises from inner need.
The dark night of the soul.
Time to draw up that bucket list everyone talks about.
A bucket list refers to the experiences or achievements a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime, of before they “kick the bucket.”
For many, the bucket list involves travelling to far-off places. Jumping out of an airplane. Running a marathon. Falling in love.
For Susan, 73, the goal is “to get a closer connection with my kids.”
As for me, I haven’t got a clue. Methinks there’s a hole in my bucket. So, looking for answers, I took myself to see the movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel… for the Elderly and Beautiful.
The dream of the young owner of this dilapidated hotel in Jaipur, India is to “outsource old age,” and what better way to begin than to welcome a group of British elders who are wounded seekers, each lost in their own private pain.
The crusty, bigoted character portrayed by the magnificent Maggie Smith doesn’t want to think of the future. “I don’t even buy green bananas!” she exclaims.
Another character laments, “We’re all old… we’re past it. All we’re good for is a beige bungalow.”
But the assault on their senses which is the cacophonous Jaipur has another declare, “Nothing can prepare the uninitiated for this riot of noise and colour. All life is here!”
The underlying theme of the movie is fear. Not fear of dying, rather fear of living.
Judy Dench’s character surmises, “Dive into it and you’ll swim out the other side. The challenge is to cope with it… not just cope but thrive!”
And you don’t need to go to India or jump out of an airplane to realize that life is a privilege. Don’t miss your life. Live it. Now. No regrets.
So on my next trip to the grocery store, I’ll bypass the vegetable aisle and head directly to the ice cream aisle. No bucket required.
April Lewis is the local communications director for CARP.