The cycles of life
Posted on 15th April 2015 at 07:30
We’ve mentioned the multitude of cycles that occur in the natural world and impact on our lives several times before in this blog.
At one extreme are the seconds making up each minute, which happen many, many times during our lifetime. At the other end are cycles which take millions – yes millions – of human lifetimes to complete, such as the completion of the galactic year. (The time it takes for our solar system to complete one circuit around the centre of our galaxy, the Milky Way galaxy).
While the length of the cycle may vary, they each share the same components. A start, maturing and end. Or, put another way, a birth, growth and death. You only have to look out of your window at this time of year to see them in action!
A cycle we haven’t mentioned before – and which comes up frequently with clients – is that within our own lives. We know that even mentioning our own mortality can make some people feel queasy, but this isn’t what we’re focussing on today. Instead, we’d like to give you a different way of looking at your life – and the lives of those around you – which can help you better understand what’s going on.
Traditional cultures still look at life in terms of a cycle, with particular emphasis on transition points such as puberty, taking on a formal role within the society, marriage or childbirth. These transition points – or rites of passage – are each marked by a ceremony where the event itself is celebrated. We can still see this in our society today, although often the event itself seems less important than the party to celebrate it!
Many of these cultures divided the human life into a succession of 30 year cycles. In India, for example, the first 30 years of life was said to be the time of youth. The next 30 years a time of work and family. From 60 on, it was a time of giving back to the world or contemplation of its mysteries. The older generation were revered as the wise ones, with much to give back to the younger generations.
This 30 cycle also coincides with the time it takes the planet Saturn to complete one orbit around the sun. It’s actually slightly shorter than this at 29.5 years but makes the maths easier!
Often portrayed as the grim reaper, Saturn is intimately connected to many of the cycles within human life. Now we know that mentioning astrology may cause some people to roll their eyes (!) but, please, do bear with us as it’s about to start getting interesting.
Each of Saturn’s orbits was then broken down into four segments, each with their own themes and crucially providing the necessary foundations for the next. Let’s see how it works in practice and go back to our entry into the world.
The first seven years start with birth and the entry of a new life into the world. It’s marked by a state of complete dependence on the parents for every need. We’ve often heard it said that babies come into this world without a manual – for parents or child – and that everything has to be learnt by trial and error. Gradually, over time, the baby starts to master its own body and learn about its surroundings.
By the time the first seven years has been completed, the bay has become a young child. They are starting to become more independent, not only within the home, but outside it too. Able to independently carry out the basic functions of life and already at school.
The second seven year segment marks the formative school years. Having mastered the basic physical skills, the emphasis is now on basic intellectual skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic. Oh, and don’t forget those more hi tech skills needed to function in the modern world.
The end of this segment, around 14 / 15, marks a grasp of these skills and a time of conscious choices about the subjects to be studied for GCSE’s. At this stage, the child’s own personality, preferences and interests have started to become clear.
The third seven year segment marks the passage to young adulthood. Increasing independence and assertion of their own personality – and way of living their life – are now much more apparent (!).
By the time the third segment is completed around 21, formal education is coming to an end, either in college or in the workplace. The next step is out into the workplace as a young adult.
The fourth segment is all about finding their place in the world. Not only in the workplace, but in society and close non family relationships. It’s all about the big questions. What do I want to achieve? How do I want to live? What do I want my legacy to be?
By the end of this segment, true adulthood has been reached. They are settled in their work – or career – and also in relationships. Many are in committed relationships or married, perhaps considering having their own children.
And so the first orbit of Saturn has been completed and the person is grounded into their life. Can you see how each segment has its own theme? And, most importantly, how each builds on the previous one?
The second orbit of Saturn, in many ways, mirrors the first with similar issues being faced but as an adult rather than a child.
Crucially, any issues that weren’t addressed during the first orbit now raise their heads the second time round. In particular, determining whether the course you’re on is the one you really want. If not, taking making the necessary corrections to get back on track.
The first seven year segment goes through to about 36 / 37 years old. By this time many people have families of their own and are advancing in their work – or career. It’s all about finding out what life holds as a real adult.
But if there are any cracks, these are starting to show now. Often appearing first in the late twenties – at the end of the first cycle – but not being addressed at the time. Perhaps misgivings about the chosen career path or relationship.
The mid thirties seem to be a time when many radical changes of direction are made, often to the complete amazement of family and friends. However, if you look closer, the signs had been there for a long time before.
The next segment goes through to about 43 /44 years old. This is the time of being settled in home and work, with all the benefits this brings. However, as with the previous cycle, any issues not previously dealt with become even more apparent.
This is the time of the so called “mid life crisis”, where drastic action is called for. It can often feel as though the lid has come off the pressure cooker and the person returned to their teenage years. Rebellion in every sense of the word. Which, in many ways they have, although this time the consequences are much greater.
It’s one thing rebelling as a teenager, quite another as an adult with all the responsibilities that brings. Interestingly, time and time again we find that these were the people who never rebelled as a teenager – or asserted their own personality. Perhaps due to family expectations, they did what was expected of them rather than what they really desired.
Rebellion may be messy but not doing so, is even more so. Hence the emergence of many health issues, particularly related to the heart, in the forties.
And so on to the early fifties, a time of consolidation. Looking at what has been achieved in all aspects of life so far. Have they achieved what they set out to do? Are they fulfilled by it? What adjustments do they want to make?
By the time the end of the second orbit around 60 the person’s focus is moving on to your later years. Perhaps retirement, perhaps work in another form as a mentor or on a voluntary basis.
The third cycle often re kindles a new interest in learning. Not in the formal learning of earlier years but in the world at large.
Looking at your life in this way – and perhaps those around you – you will gain a completely new perspective on what may be going on. Perhaps looking at the themes which keep coming up, but you’ve never quite understood.
And what about helping the children around you to become independent, assert their own personalities and make their own choices? Allowing them to rebel, in the safety of childhood.
Encouraging education in its broadest sense and allowing time to experience different ways and types of work. Not pressurising them to make early decisions about a career, but allowing them to use their twenties as a time of experimentation in the world of work. No skills learnt are ever wasted.
And, if there is a change of heart in the 30’s, 40’s or 50’s, to understand better why and help make the necessary changes more easily.
It’s often said that mistakes are our most natural way to learn, but how often do we pay more than lip service to this?
The end result we’d like to suggest, is a more relaxed, more natural approach to life. Going with the flow of life rather than trying to force it to be something different.
As always, the choice is yours.
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