Guest Blogger: Frank Paynter - Part 2
Guest Blogger: Melinda Applegate

Guest Blogger: Frank Paynter - Part 3

[EDITORIAL NOTE: While I'm still in Maine, Frank Paynter of listics continues his exclusive TGB guest series on The Three Ages. Today - Coming of Age. Be sure to stop by his blog; there is always something there you probably didn't know before.]

Here is another reflection on the three ages we experience if we live that long...

I'm a late bloomer. I cling to that idea because it excuses a lot. If I wasn't a late bloomer I would have been some kind of success as a young man: a gifted academic perhaps, or a business leader, or a noted author. Since none of these things have yet come true and I am passing, I may have already passed from the second age to the third age, I really must be a late bloomer, a really late bloomer, a late bloomer for real!

As a child all things were possible. I didn't hear the rustic accent and the speech patterns that distinguished me from the upper classes. My flat feet and poor vision were simple accidents of birth. I played in the high school band and if I wasn't very accomplished, I always had faith that with a little more practice I could do a lot better.

The shift from adolescence to adulthood was gradual. It involved more than a few graduations. It also involved taking a job, supporting myself and finding a path to walk. Walking that path is what the second age is about I think. As a flat footed person, my gait is neither beautiful nor fast, but at least it is distinctive.

The shift from mature adulthood to older age has also been gradual. And here I am confused by the late bloomer quality of my life, because what other people seem to have grasped quite young, has only come to me in the last few years. I have reached a place where I'm confident, and that includes the confidence that it's okay to make some mistakes. I am much more accepting than I was as a younger person. I am generally able to acknowledge my lack of control of a situation, and to work through the situation anyway.

As a young man, sitting with other young men of my age group, a recurring topic of conversation was "if we had known then what we know now." This usually applied to success with girls, but it had a broader applicability too. We looked back across the gap from the second age to the first age, and we regretted our innocence, our ignorance of the ways of the world.

Today, if I look back to the first age from the third, I mostly enjoy the memories with none of those regrets. But looking back a shorter distance, toward the beginning of that second age, I still do have a few of those "if only I knew then" kind of thoughts. I believe that those regrets will fade with distance as I progress flat footedly down the path ever deeper into the terra incognita of this third age.


Thinking about my flat-footed gait as distinctive is quite helpful, Frank. Thank you for that.

I don't think I ever considered myself a late bloomer. In fact, I do wish I could have held back more! And that is one of my regrets that I look back on and wish I had done differently. There are of course many more regrets too.

This post is beautiful. I feel like so many of us are walking down that path ... and I am close behind you, even flat-footedly, "ever deeper into the terra incognita of this third age."

frank, you have identified something all of us could consider more fully. if we "made friends," with that terra incognita of the third age, couldn't aging be something we'd cherish more? sounds as if you do--and that leads you beyond the old regrets. thanks for a new way to think about my days.

Well, this is just the kind of post I feel I have to ponder on! There's a lot to chew on before it gets digested here ;)

Please accept my gratitude for the fine job you have done filling in here.



What a great mental picture you paint! My hubby is the most flat-footed person I've ever known and now I appreciate his gait even more.

..."But looking back a shorter distance, toward the beginning of that second age, I still do have a few of those "if only I knew then" kind of thoughts."

Ah, yes, I have those moments, too.

I like the concept of your three stages. I gather the transition time from "mature adulthood to older age," is highly individual.

I think everyone is "flat-footed" in one area or another at one time or another in their life. Certainly I'm no exception. I don't think of it always as a negative, perhaps not even warranting regrets.

Yes, "if I only knew then...," but are you assuming different choices or actions would have resulted in better outcomes? They might have been worse.

I'm still back on the river from your Part II, having disembarked numerous times along the way to follow the path along the riverbank, venturing inland, seeming always to connect with another body of water on which to continue my journey.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts, stimulating mine.

You make me recall something I'd written a while ago:

Growing Wisdom

At fifty I was a teenager.
Ten years later I was thinking
about what I'd like to be
when I grew up.
Ten years after that I began to suspect
that I had already grown up.
Now, after another fifteen years,
I wonder what it is that grownups do.
How do they behave?
Why are they called "grown up"?

To show for all that time?
A large accumulation of years.
Nothing more.
Nothing less.

I've been writing a half memoir, half philosophy for myself to see what I add up to at this point. Now all I have to do is quote you and leah. You've both expressed things so well. Thank you.

The day came some time in my 50's--I realized that what I was going to be when I grew up, I had been. No more mystery there--nothing more to decide or solve. It's done. That reminds me of a quote from a forgotten movie, "We did what we could in the time that we had and enjoyed what we did." I hope to be able to still say that on my death bed.

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