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Awakening Spring in Autumn – A Sample Chapter

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A metaphor that Truman Capote offered many years ago seems quite appropriate in helping us understand more about these internal forces (both good and bad). In one of his early novellas, Capote (1994) wrote about “voices from other rooms.” These voices often seem to come from outside our self. As was the case with Tim, there are voices inside our psyche that ask questions, suggest priorities, offer dreams and aspirations, and (as with Tim) provide cautious advice. Most importantly, these voices from other rooms were often created and first articulated long before our Autumnal years.

It seems that in our young adulthood many of us made choices about what was important to us, about what was practical and about what was suitable for a woman or man to do in life. In making these choices, we set aside certain prized activities and dreams. For instance, one of us has recently worked with Samuel, a man who knew as a young man that it would never be very practical for him to continue playing drums in a rock and roll band. Samuel decided to become an accountant. A woman we have coached is now a prominent physician. Dr. Jane, as her devoted patients now call her, loved to play basketball as a kid, but gave it up during medical school.

One of our clients, Maria, wanted to be in a helping profession, yet her family decided it was best for her to be an engineer as she was too empathetic and kind to face any pain or suffering. And she was good at math. A colleague, Ricardo, is now in his late Sixties. As a single man, Ricardo loved shopping each Saturday morning at the open market. He looked forward to cooking up a feast for his friends on Saturday night. Then Ricardo got married and knew in the mid-1970s that this was not what traditional men were intended to do. We must remember that he was married before liberation from traditional sex roles had taken hold in many societies. When Ricardo was a young husband, men were not supposed to like these domestic chores, especially in the Hispanic culture from which he came.

These activities and dreams never went away as we, Autumnals, were living through our Thirties and Forties. However, we stuck them in a room located at the back of our psychic home. They were only faintly heard. We filled the main psychic rooms in which we lived with many people, including our life partner, children, colleagues, friends, and business associates. Our living room, in particular, was rather noisy. We had little time to hear, let alone listen to, these faint voices emanating from other rooms. If we heard them at all, these voices often appeared to be “young and foolish.” They seemed to come from another time and another place in our life.

These voices, however, never went away and now in late midlife our living room is not as crowded or as noisy. We have more time to hear these voices from other rooms and are less often distracted than we were during our Twenties, Thirties or Forties. Furthermore, many events are now occurring in our lives that repeatedly remind us of these faint voices from our past. Strange and unpredictable events seem to resonate with these past activities and dreams.

One of Samuel’s accounting clients is hosting a 60s rock, roll and remembrance party. His client asked him recently if he ever played in a rock and roll band. Samuel’s client is particularly in need of someone who has played drums. Dr Jane’s practice as a physician is successful, but her own family doctor has forcefully told her to get more exercise. Jane just moved to a community with an active adult recreation program. It features an “old girl’s” basketball league.

Maria now having travelled the world, experienced the voice of her ‘true calling’, ended up in a remote village where she founded a school and started enrolling students. The wife of Ricardo, our would-be shopper and chef, just received a promotion and will have to travel in her new job. She is in her mid-Sixties, but got started late in her career, so has no intentions of retiring in the near future—she wants to make up for “lost time.” She hesitantly asks Ricardo, who is now retired, if he wouldn’t mind doing more of the cooking for himself and perhaps even for both of them during the weekends. She asks him to do more cooking only two months after a new gourmet supermarket opened down at the local mall. It features a Saturday morning farmer’s market.

It all seems to be a remarkable coincidence. There is a controversial term that is sometimes used to label this coincidence: “synchronicity.” It seems appropriate in describing this type of coincidence. A group of scientists, called chaos theorists, have an alternative (and more “scientific”) name and explanation for this phenomenon. They use the term “strange attractor.” Those doing research on chaotic systems note that there are many events in nature that seem to pull in energy from outside and establish powerful, compelling and repetitive patterns.

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