A new story from The Hero’s Journey for The Daily ZU – read the full story at www.thedailyzu.com.

Youth may be wasted on the young, but it’s not wasted on the old. Or maybe, youth may be wasted on the young, but age isn’t wasted on the old. We live as long as we do for a reason. In the first phase of our lives, we’re getting ready. All our systems are coming online, downloading, integrating. We’re figuring out to best use them. We discover what our talents are, as well as our strengths and vulnerabilities.

In the second phase, we’re running full out. We’re getting married and having kids. We’re developing our careers, making money. We’re gaining confidence in our abilities. We transit from trying to work on our weaknesses to coming from our strengths.

In the third stage of the journey, we’re consolidating our gains. We’re sending our kids off as they transition from their first to the second phases. We slow down a little, rounding the turn to the last stretch, and as we slow down we reexamine what’s important. It’s no longer about making money or being recognized. It becomes about giving away. Instead of: What can I get? It becomes: What can I give? Through enlightened self-interest, you realize that you get only by giving. The more you give, the more you get. Give it all away, and you have it all.

Add in the final phase of a reasonably long life, you don’t want anything anymore. I once asked an old man why he  seemed to be at peace while I wasn’t. He replied: You’re problem is that you still want something. I don’t.  In the fourth phase, even though you’re running out of it, time in that final stage of life becomes your ally, and life is no longer a race. Your job now is to pass on what you’ve learned before you reach the finish line. You realize that it doesn’t matter who finishes first or whether you finish at all.

Yet if that line is death, then we all finish, don’t we? In that final phase of living, you realize that your dreams of success may not be the true purpose of your life. In fact, the end aims of your life, as dreamt up by you in your youth, may be the opposite of what your deeper self aims for. You don’t choose the super-objective of your life as much as it chooses you. You may think your life drives you toward a certain end state, and that it’s the objective toward which you reach and stretch and strive that matters. Yet to your deeper self, the end may be incidental to what happens along the way. It’s ironic, but the end may not matter. It’s what you’ve gathered along the road up ’til now that’s harvested in that last phase. And it’s not money or things. It’s what you’ve accomplished along that racetrack that becomes your destiny. And what you’ve accomplished isn’t awards or rewards.

Doesn’t matter where you finish compared to everyone else. Always, there’s someone ahead or someone behind. Your deeper self doesn’t care where you finish. It doesn’t care how your life ends. It only concerns itself with what you do along the way, in your life’s most ordinary moments. The ends sought by your deeper self, you regard as mere means. The ends you’ve worked toward your whole life are just means to your deepest self. Your finish line is a mere mile marker for your deeper self.  And what it regards as a destiny is to you the middle of the journey.

As you get older, you may think you’re running out of time, but time is the thing you make the least of when you have the most of it. When you’ll make the most of time, you’ll have the least of it left. Time is that strange enemy which, by forcing us to choose how to spend it, ends up being our best friend in the end.