People who view their world at 50 the same as they did at 20, have wasted 30 years of their lives. Muhammed Ali

Two Lives?

In 1986, the movie The Natural was made, based upon a novel written by Bernard Malamud in 1952. The film was highly successful, based upon its appeal to sports fans (baseball) and featuring attractive movie stars (Redford, Basinger and Close). But the film and novel have a strongly spiritual and allegorical quality that transcends its entertainment value.

The Natural focuses upon the personal redemption and reclamation of an aging ball player named Roy Hobbs who gets a “second chance” in life. Approaching middle age, Hobbs is re-acquainted with his high school girlfriend who speaks the following bit of sage insight:

“We have two lives……….the life we learn from and the life we live after that. Suffering is what brings us toward happiness.”

This piece of dialogue reminded me of an earlier message that has been conveyed in previous newsletters:

“Nobody changes in the midst of a positive situation. Negative experiences, therefore, provide windows of opportunity.”

I believe that the Malamud quote invites introspection. If we think of our lifespan as on a continuum, laid out like the scale below, it would look like this:

Age 0 (birth)________________________________________________ (current) age?

If, for instance, we are 50, that is where our lifespan currently finds itself. But the point of today’s newsletter asks us to determine which of our so-called “two lives” we are currently living. Certainly, we can all claim that we should be learning daily. But the movie quote suggests that many of us have hit a “turning point” or “crossroads” that represents the end of our “learning life” and the onset of our second life. For our hypothetical 50 year old, he/she may cite an event at age 37 when there was a life-altering change in a personal relationship, career direction, or spiritual awakening. The 50 year old’s life continuum would look like the scale below:

Age 0………………….……age 37…………………………age 50
(learning life) (subsequent life)

Now it is time for our readers to get to work. First of all, is there a point on your lifespan continuum that represents the “turning point” when you started thinking and functioning differently? If so, that point represents the onset of your personal growth and improvement. If no “crossroads” occur to you yet, you are either very young of haven’t thought about this topic much (at all?). Or worse, you are still at the “learning stage” of life which means that you continue to stumble and reel from one pitfall to the next. You climb out of one hole, only to plummet into another. Time for a change!

I believe that any adult reading this newsletter has had the requisite number of learning experiences to move from the ”learning stage” in life to the “next stage” (the happy and productive one).

OK, how do I do that? First, do an honest appraisal and inventory of past negative thoughts and behaviors that we should be learning from. Second, invest less time and energy in feeling guilty or blaming others, and more attention to changing beliefs and modifying behaviors accordingly.

This step is a simple act of will. For readers who may lament, “It’s not that easy!” I will agree. But the only way to get to the so-called “second life” is to apply the learnings from the first life and proceed with an altered mindset and healthier behavior patterns.

It is truly your choice.

A mistake repeated more than once is a decision. – Paul Coehlo