from peacock to infinity

At twenty a man is a peacock, at thirty a lion, at forty a camel, at fifty a serpent, at sixty a dog, at seventy an ape, at eighty nothing at all.
Baltasar Gracian (Spanish philosopher, 17th Century)

This week I have been thinking my life has occurred in fifteen year stages. From sailor to engineer and blogger, and now, philosopher (?) a couple weeks after turning sixty. From adolescence to early adulthood, my life, like many that age – whether four hundred years ago or today – was concerned about appearances. Like a peacock – very showy but not a very complex animal. Once in my thirties, much more focused on stability, career, and family, but still having to make better life choices, manage finances, and gain a more sober understanding of the world. A juvenile lion gets chased off until he learns how to engage and becomes one that leads a pride successfully. After age forty, the lessons in life experience, having faced health, family or financial challenges, raised children, and the like is akin to a camel -an animal that can weather long, hot, dry spells. After entering one’s Fifties, he reaches upper rungs of the career ladder, is open to counseling now-adult children, and makes choices to stick it (whatever “it” is) out, to evade danger, or to strike – like a snake which moves noiselessly through the grass and patiently waits for the right moment.

When you enter your Sixties, if I follow this philosopher’s imagery, I might want to be more like Dexter or Comet! Am I am enjoying creature comforts like air conditioning and things that come with retirement? Perhaps. Knowing my next meal is coming. Certainly. Going for walks or rides in the car is now more assured that I have retired. And like Dexter, I still do things at full-forward effort. Age is only relative. But somehow I am more drawn to Comet’s sensibility of taking life easier.

As for the Spaniard’s commentary about later stages of life, I’ll let you know when I get there.



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