We don’t age gradually, it happens in short phases. I remember two major aging shoves in my life. The first one, I experienced in my mid-thirties when my body-mind energy dropped by something like ten percent. At that time, I also acquired a lower back problem that never went away. It can manage it, but I will have to live with for the rest of my life. I think, having to live with issues is part of aging. The second shove happened in my late forties – another drop of my body-mind energy and this time visible signs of aging.
Each time a cell divides, the DNA’s protective ends – the telomeres – wear down. When the telomeres get too short, the cell can’t divide and flags itself as to be discarded. That’s the technicality of aging.
The body replaces all cells within seven to fifteen years (it takes longest to replace bone cells). Ten to fifteen? That’s average eleven years, close to twelve – the number of the zodiac. Could it be that the body grows and ages every twelve-years?
0 to 12 – Childhood
12 to 24 – Adolescence and young adulthood
24 to 36 – Adulthood
36 to 48 – Adulthood
48 to 60 – Adulthood
60 to 72 – Old age
72 to 84 – Old age
When I looked at these cycles or phases, something occurred to me. “No way!” I thought. I looked up some numbers and that made my hair stand to end. My life experienced a major turning point every time it entered a new twelve-year cycle and a new theme appeared.
Let me show you:
Age 0 – 12, Theme: Unhappy Childhood
An introverted day-dreaming boy grows up with too little parental affection.
Age 12 – 24, Theme: Idealistic Liberation
During adolescence, we individualize, hopefully discover our heart’s desire, and liberate ourselves from everything we don’t like. In my case, this went far beyond the ordinary. At age sixteen I took a Philosophy class and discovered Nietzsche. A double Scorpio getting passionate about mental liberation – you get the picture. I took on my dad, the church, society – anything. I crowned this phase with two years of backpacking in Australia, New Zealand, and Indonesia.
Age 24 – 36, Theme: Family Life
Towards the end of my back-packing tour, I met my first wife in Bali. Although we decided to get married when I was twenty-two and she got pregnant soon after, it took us two years to settle down. We got legally married in Germany 1989 when I was two months into my twenty-fifth year. I was mid thirty-five when we separated and she moved back to Bali.
Age 36 – 48, Theme: Delayed Bachelor Life
At age thirty-six, I found myself leading a bachelor life. I changed job and started to earn serious money. I did many business trips all over Europe, I worked in Dubai for a few years, and then in the Philippines. I tried another marriage at age forty-fifth, which marked the beginning of a cataclysm. At age forty-eight my career was broken, my second marriage over, and my savings gone. I ended up as a foreigner in a third world country without much to fall back on. Survival mode.
Age 48 – 60, Theme: A Writer’s Life
My heart’s desire is to be an inspiring writer. Since I was young, I liked to think and write. Family and career prevented me from doing so. At age forty-five I resurrected my heart’s desire. At that time it was just a hobby, but soon I took it seriously. I published my first book at age fifty-one. Now, at age fifty-four, I’m in the middle of living a writer’s life.
Age 60 – 72, Theme: ???
I will probably continue writing beyond my sixty-first birthday, but I am sure a new theme will emerge. I have a hunch what it will be, but I don’t want to think about it too much. It may be the last big surprise in my life. 😉
What about your life? Did it shift like that? Can you define a theme for each phase?