As mentioned previously, I have reflected a great deal on the various stages in life. The whole point of writing on these stages is that we often don't know where we are, much less where we are headed. Usually, it does not even occur to us to think about our path until we have tripped up and injured ourselves or been injured...i.e. pain / life tragedies. This path is so long that we can't see the end of one stage because we are just trying to get around the next bend. As humans, we tend to want what we want when we want it and life just doesn't happen that way.
Life is not linear but often a series of ups and downs, backwards and forwards, or just stalled out in a stage of life. Some choose: to keep going, to keep fighting, and to keep growing. Others are stuck where they and are not able to grow. Moreover, some are asleep and numb to life because of the pain. Hence, there is goodness in suffering because its the pain that awakens us. I am reminded of something Rohr said that life is about order, disorder, then reorder. C.S. Lewis said it best: "But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world." And I might add a megaphone to our deaf world (ego / smaller self) we create for ourselves which is common to everyone one of us.
We find that our path is much less about pushing through it (at least it is this way until stage four) but that we find we are taken there, pushed there, or just fall into it. At the end, we realize that it is much less about us doing the work and more about the unfolding of life itself. I think our task is to stay awake to what is transpiring and to see the goodness and necessity of each stage. A musician friend shared a quote yesterday that encapsulates the hope of naming these stages. My hope is to name these stages without blaming (or at least not wave my finger as much)!
“To describe [the present age] is to challenge it. Isn’t that really what artists are supposed to do? It’s not their job to solve the problem. It’s their job to describe the problem. And part of the description is to realize that this is very attractive. And to admit one’s own attraction to it....so the job is to describe what’s going on, describe the attention, and be generous enough to not wave your finger at it as it’s going by.” - Bono
It is important to note...especially in our culture of achievement that the goal is not transforming into some exceptional person (as strange as that may sound) for life is more about subtraction than it is about addition. Instead, it is in coming back to who we have always been by having our false self fall off. For in the end, the most transformative and self-actualizing arrival is becoming fully human. It's in our full humanity that glory of God gets to be most on display!