NEVER IN LIFE is there a need to call on the power of grace and humility more than at midlife. As we take measure of our lives, we can find ourselves dismayed and discouraged and disillusioned to find our lives simply no longer fit us. All that we thought we were, no longer makes sense. Suddenly, we don’t fit in our own skin, never mind our own clothes. We look in the mirror and see faces, even bodies, we no longer recognize.
And yet, somewhere behind the looking glass, we know intuitively that our true beauty, our value, needs to reflect from the inside out –and not the other way around. At midlife, we women watch the children we held close to our hearts turn away and move on to create a life outside us and away from us.
Suddenly, we may no longer experience mothering in the same way we once let it define us, and our empty nests seem too spacious for us to reside in comfortably.
Our jobs may or may no longer interest us in the same way, our relationships with our spouses or partners may have shifted —for better or worse—or even ended.
And finally, the things that we wore as badges of success no longer keep us warm, no longer offer us a sense of security.
These are the things I discovered at midlife. These are the things that sent me on a journey of the dark night, a treacherous place for the soul that took me to high and low ground, and finally, to my higher self.
This is the same path I was on when I discovered the Tao Te Ching, a book written by Chinese philosopher and poet Lao Tzu nearly 2,500 years ago (somewhere in the time period 604-531 B.C.) .
Translated thousands of times, second only to the Bible, the Tao Te Ching outlines a simple but paradoxal philosophy to life. Tao means “the way,” and the basic tenets for finding the way to living in unity with the universe is this: live with a spirit of compassion, humility, harmony and moderation.
Tzu offers guidance through 81 verses, or chapters, on the art of living with integrity and encourages us to transform our consciousness and evolve with intention.
It is a beautiful book full of paradox, like yin and yang, night and day, good and evil. Much like our human existence, it points to the duality of life. Yet it continues to offer hope, inspiration and guidance for creating a more peaceful, meaningful life.
I’ve used the Tao Te Ching to reflect on the changes many of us women experience at midlife, and I write about it in my book, Tao Flashes. My mission for this site is that it will be used to help shepherd women on their journey. And when possible, to create a forum for supporting personal growth during the transitional period that is midlife.