The Third Third

Change, Encore

I have recently noticed a number of women “our age” (as my sister says, “our age” used to be a year or two older or younger and it’s now a decade or so older or younger) coming to terms with the end of something they just started in their “third third.” 

As Nan Fink Gefen writes in the spring issue of Persimmon Tree, “It became apparent to me that I no longer had the energy to continue in this job of chief editor. My enthusiasm about the magazine remained high, but there were other things I wanted to do.”   Another friend, a retired journalist just returned from Burma where she was researching her next book, admits she wants to finish the book and do it well, but that after so many years’ investment in the project, she’s ready to move on to a new one and eager to spend more time with her grandchildren.

Often it comes as a surprise to us that that great new venture, or adventure, begun about five years ago is no longer sustaining -- not that it was a mistake, but that it is finite, or at least our interest in it is most definitely finite.  Changing course at this age comes with the regret that accompanies any change, even those of one’s own choosing, but it also comes more readily now than before,  thanks to the hard-won self-awareness that this is not how we want to spend the rest of their lives, and an equally strong awareness that “the rest of our lives” is an ever-shorter period of time.

News of these decisions can be daunting:  Not only do I have to figure out what I want to do with the third third of my life, but I may have to figure out two or three or more things that I want to do.  But it can also be liberating: I am not necessarily wed to one choice or one possibility, I can make a leap of faith, risk failure, keep growing, and, yes, change my mind.  And inspiring.  Nan Fink Gefen, now 72, writes, “I have a dream of starting a publishing company, Persimmon Tree Press, a sister to Persimmon Tree magazine. It likewise will be dedicated to promoting the writing of women over sixty.”

So, women of the third third, what are your dreams?  And how are they changing?

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