By Peter Menzies, originally posted on Cardus.

The one thing that clearly distinguishes the third third of life on this earth from the first two thirds is that it is The Last Third.

Yes, yes, I’m sure that the transition that follows is, and as Chesterton beautifully illustrates, far more wondrous than the major events of the first third such as—let me think—puberty, teenage angst, and all-night cramming. And there’s little question the world beyond it is more marvellous than notable second third processes such as thinning hair, aching joints, worsening eyesight, prostate exams, and, well, I could go on. But the topic of this discussion is the third third and as far as this world is concerned, it ends in a box. No matter the strength of your faith or the poetry of Chesterton, that takes some getting used to.

By the terms laid down in The Third Third of Life: Preparing for Your Future by Walter C. Wright, the three thirds consist of birth to age thirty, thirty to sixty, and sixty to ninety. But I am fifty-seven, which means if I live as long as my father—to eighty-five (divided by 3 = 28.33 x 2 = 56.66)—I have crossed over. There are optimists out there who say silly things like “sixty is the new fifty” and “seventy is the new sixty,” and Wright’s book is filled with happy stories about people finding not just second but third winds in retirement, mentoring like there’s no tomorrow (pun unintended), growing in faith, relishing the joyful company of grandchildren and, in other words, finding wonder in what others call the contemplative phase of life. These are all good and inspirational things.

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