I have mixed feelings about all of it, but I couldn’t help but think that today, Charles is in his prime.
Earlier this week, in a far less well-known place, with far less glamourous attire, Pam, one of my hiking friends, and I, were walking along a path in the foothills chatting about the prime of life. I was telling her that I’d been talking to our son, Greg a few weeks ago about life. Greg has a very demanding job. It’s demanding from a thinking perspective and also from a time commitment perspective. Greg’s free minutes have become preciously few indeed. On his birthday, I mentioned to Greg, that right now, and for about the next ten years, he would be in the prime of his life. I told him that while work could absorb every single one of those years fully, I hoped he could find some time to squeeze in the things he loves, the things that fill him up outside of work. I hope it was a gentle suggestion I made for him to try to not let these precious prime years slip away.
Pam and I agreed that those mid to late thirties, to mid to late forties, were indeed prime years. Our bodies felt great, the future looked like it still stretched long enough in front of us we could be a bit nonchalant about it, we were in secure jobs, had our families well on their way to being grown, and we were still being tapped on the shoulder occasionally for interesting work.
Since then, I’ve wondered about this idea of being in the prime of our life. Some older people think that any person younger than them is in the prime of their life. I’m a bit amused by that thought. I’ve seen plenty of people of all ages who definitely are not in their prime.
So what is this thing we call the prime of our life?
I’m lucky to be at a stage of life, where I have such a broad view. I have a front row seat to the very earliest years of life as I enjoy the stages of little Ben and Andy.
I have connections with former students, now in their early twenties, definitely feeling like they are in their prime, experiencing independent living, new jobs, university graduations and new relationships. I love to watch their confidence grow and see their way of interacting with our world.
I see our own kids and their partners, all in established careers, juggling the demands of relationships, family, work, friendships, finances, fitness, and home ownership. They do it so well. I long for their energy and think this, surely this, is the prime of life.
I hike with my hiking friends and dance with my dancing friends, both activities filled with such laughter and support. These women and I, I think, we are in our prime. We are so grateful to be able to do what we do, and so fortunate to have found others to do it with. I get lost in the joy of both activities. Surely this is what it is to be in ones prime.
I call my mother-in-law, amazingly recovered from her long hospital stay in the early months of this year and marvel at her interest in life. At 93, she is now officially retired from her position as an Anglican priest. This retirement phase is new to her. I’m guessing it’s still a bit fluid. She’s still receiving requests for plenty of church related things, and if she ever started saying ‘yes’, her calendar would overflow. I must say I know from personal experience that sitting with her as she says a prayer is a blessed thing indeed. Could this, this grace she has, indicate this to be her prime of life?
By definition, the prime of life is when we are in the peak of our powers. Society has often helped us narrowly define this as either physical power, or power related to a position we hold, a title.
I have witnessed it differently. I’ve never been declared the strongest or fastest physically. I’ve never held an ‘important to society’ title. And yet I do feel like I’ve been in my prime. When I think of my life, the stages already lived, and the stages yet to come, I recognize it hasn’t been one single time period that was it. The prime time. Rather I have had many moments of prime. Moments when I thought surely life cannot be better. Surely there cannot be anything I will feel better about or more grateful for. In among these moments there must have been many, many non-prime moments. Thus, I can only conclude that we create our prime. Our prime is when we have the wisdom, no matter our age, to pause, even ever so briefly, to breathe in the blessings we have in our life, and to take time to create these moments for ourselves and for others.
Tonight, King Charles will no doubt sit with family and celebrate his incredible new title and responsibilities. I hope he takes time to pause for a moment of gratitude. After all, he is in his prime.
I too will sit with our family. I will still have a sore knee, and I’ll be exhausted when the party is over. I don’t have a crown to wear or an outfit hand-made by a famous designer. I do have a cone-shaped party hat, and if I’m wise, I too will pause, look around my table and recognize that right now, right this minute, surrounded by this family of ours, this too is my prime.
My inquiry for you this week is, ‘What prime time am I creating?’
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups and has expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to create prime times.