“Need a Quote”

The Start-Reborn at 45
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At the age of reason, I was placed on a train, the shades drawn, my life's course and destination already determined. At the age of 45, I pulled the emergency cord and ran out into the world. It was a decision that meant no less than a new life, a new course, a new destination. I was born again in my 45th year. The previous "me" was not me. It was a self-image I had thrust upon me. It was the person I had accepted myself to be, but I had been playing a role. "It took me a long time to discover that the key to acting is honesty," an actor told anthropologist Edmund Carpenter. "Once you know how to fake that, you've got it made." In time, we fool even ourselves. Sooner or later, however, we come to question the trip planned for us, the goals we are given, our itinerary to death. Sooner or later, the self-image becomes not worth preserving. The person we are presumed to be seems unsatisfactory and inadequate. Sooner or later, it becomes important that we fell important and have the feeling that what we are doing is important. When I stepped off that train, I had lost my sense of purpose, my faith in what I was doing, my caring for creation and its creatures. And when I stepped from that train, I found I was not alone. Millions of Americans who had been told Sunday after Sunday to be born again were now going through the shattering experience of rebirth. Only the experts don't call it that. They call it "middle-aged melancholia," or a "new cultural phenomenon of the fourth and fifth decade," or simply "change of life." The authorities agree that we come upon this stage of our life unprepared for the reality of advancing years and receding rewards. White-collar worker, blue-collar worker, housewife and career woman, no one seems immune to the crisis that sets in after the 40s get under way. Each of us on our own way comes to this revelation and faces the problem of living according to the person we really are. This is not only inevitable, it is desirable. "He who does not really feel himself lost," wrote Ortega, "is lost beyond remission. He never finds himself, never comes up against his own reality." Finding one's reality does not come without a plan or effort. Being born is no easy task. Technique and training and much hard work are needed. And we always faced with the knowledge that it is an undertaking that will never be completed. Every day will be a fresh start. Most experts suggest we make a new start in a new career, develop new interests. I say begin at the beginning. Begin with the body. The body mirrors the soul and the mind, and is much more accessible than either. Become proficient at listening to your body and you will eventually hear from your totality---the complex unique person you are. I did it that way. I stepped off that train and began to run. And in that hour a day of perfecting my body, I began to find out who I was. I discovered that my body was a marvelous thing, and learned that any ordinary human can move in ways that have excited painters and sculptors since time began. I didn't need the scientists to tell me that man is a microcosm of the universe, that he contains the 92 elements of the cosmos in his body. In the creative action of running, I became convinced of my own importance, certain that my life had significance. Fitness may have something to do with this. The physiologists have shown us that those who remain the perpetual athlete are two and even three decades younger physically than their contemporaries. And with this comes an awareness, a physical intelligence, a sensual connection with everything around you that enlarged your existence. If decreases in the body's functions are due to non-use and not to aging, is it unreasonable to suggest that our mental and psychological and spiritual capabilities deteriorate the same way? If so, our rebirth will be a long and difficult task. It will begin with the creative use of the body, in the course of which we must explore pain and exhaustion as closely as pleasure and satisfaction. It will end only when we have stretched our minds and souls just as far. But there is an alternative. You can always get back on the train. Book excerpt -- Dr. Sheehan on Running