Book Excerpt

From Having the Time of Your Life by Paul Ferrini

You are a work in progress.

Getting to know who you are It is said that cats have nine lives. What is true for cats may also be true for human beings. Within the course of our lives, we die and are reborn many times. Of course, I am not talking about physical death, but about psychological death and rebirth. We are who we think we are. We live out from the internalized beliefs that we have about ourselves or others. Those beliefs about ourselves—the ways we define who we are—are not static. They are constantly changing. Like a plant, an idea or belief begins as a seed. It is nurtured and it grows. It expresses and extends itself as leaves and flowers. And finally the flowers wither, fall off and seed the ground. What began as a seed now has returned to seed. A cycle is complete.
     This does not just happen once in your life. It happens many times. Who you are now is not who you were ten years ago, or twenty years ago. You have changed. Of course, some things change and some things do not. Your essence does not change. But your understanding and beliefs change. And, as they change, you live in a different way.
      Each cycle is an expression of who you are. Each cycle represents a shift in energy and intention. Each cycle incorporates and integrates what you learned and experienced in the previous cycle. You are a work in progress. That progress expresses tself in numerous consecutive cycles. Each time you go through a cycle, you have the opportunity to learn about who you are in a new way and to redefine yourself and your approach to life.

Nine Cycles of Life

A person who lives to be 81 years old goes through nine consecutive nine year cycles. The first cycle begins at birth and ends on the 9th birthday. This is the root or archetypal cycle. It is synonymous with childhood.  The second cycle begins at age 9 and ends at the 18th birthday. It is synonymous with adolescence. The third cycle begins at 18 and ends on the 27th birthday. It is synonymous with early adulthood and with advanced schooling and preparation for making a living and taking responsibility for one’s own life. The fourth cycle begins at 27 and ends on the 36th birthday. It involves building the foundation of career and family. The fifth cycle begins at 36 and ends on the 45th birthday. During this cycle we begin to experience the shift that comes as we approach our mid-life crisis and we begin to redefine who we are. For some people, changes in career and family structure may occur. The sixth cycle begins at 45 and ends on the 54th birthday. This is a time when our children leave the nest and our mid life crisis often continues, along with the changes that come with menopause. We begin to realize that we no longer fit into the family structure and communities that have defined us in the last two cycles and we begin the search for new spiritual families and support systems. The seventh cycle begins at 54 and ends at 63. Often, we become grandparents in this cycle, if we did not in the previous cycle. These are the years when we come fully into our power and purpose and become teachers, leaders and role models for the next generation. Our creative fulfillment and the recognition by others of our talents and gifts (or the lack of fulfillment and recognition) are particularly poignant at this stage of our lives. The eighth cycle begins at 63 and ends at 72. In this cycle we may experience health issues and crises and we may need to make lifestyle changes that enable us to heal and find greater balance in our lives. We may decide to retire or cut back on the number of hours that we work. We may downsize or relocate to a warmer climate. We may need to get more support from others to continue to live independently. The ninth cycle begins at 72 and ends at 81. These are our wisdom years when we begin to detach from the world and come to peace with our lives and the people who are closest to us. We may have opportunities to forgive and to heal that were not possible till now because we were not ready. Often we simplify our lives, explore our spirituality and let go of roles/activities that make us anxious or drain our energy. In this last ninth cycle, we also begin thinking about our legacy and preparing to make our transition. Of course, many people live to be older than 81 and they may experience a 10th or even 11th nine year cycle. However,
the readings in this book do not go beyond the ninth year of the ninth cycle (81).