The New New Beginner.

February 18, 2024

The New New Beginner.

May 29, 2023

Chip: We all deserve to become beginners again in midlife as MEA alum Tom Cosgrove suggests here.

I recently found myself on life’s Route 66 and it caused me to reflect on the journey I took in my 65th year when I was invited to MEA.

MEA co-founder Jeff Hamaoui named me The New New Beginner at my MEA graduation, an inspirational title for someone headed into the last quarter of life.  His message to me made clear that when I realized “my beloved was my teacher,” and my “pain was where (I) needed to go” that my cohort - Brand New Day - saw me and I should “keep going there.”  


He continued that my challenge going forward was to be as courageous with the people I love in my life as I was with myself in Pescadero.  A few weeks later I came across three pieces of wisdom that have kept me on a courageous journey down my Route 66 and beyond.  

First, was an essay by the “cultural activator” Alixa García titled Becoming Imaginal that taught me something new about our midlife cocoon and the “messy middle.”

…the caterpillar enters a suspended death. It is here, amidst the complete cellular breakdown, where something miraculous starts to happen: imaginal cells are born. Imaginal cells have the information code for the butterfly. While no single imaginal cell has all the information, collectively, out of apparent death, they bring forth the majestic creature. How poetic that scientists knew to call them imaginal, for indeed they are keepers of imagination.”

Alixa’s words remind me that my MEA transformation was a collective effort and I am bound on a cellular level with the seventeen wise and lovely humans of my cohort.  A binding that was nurtured in Mexico by the wisdom and time we spent with Jeff, Kari, Teddi, Therese and the kitchen crew.

The next bits of wisdom came from Andrea Gibson, Colorado’s new Poet Laureate, with whom I’ve become acquainted.  Andrea is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns.

After the return of their ovarian cancer this spring they wrote the poem In the chemo room, I wear mittens made of ice so I don’t lose my fingernails. But I took a risk today to write this down.  This line of their poem is a reminder to me of my MEA transformation - 


Wasn’t it death that taught me 
to stop measuring my lifespan by length, 
but by width? Do you know how many beautiful things 
can be seen in a single second? How you can blow up
a second like a balloon and fit infinity inside of it? 


Then a few weeks later they shared this -  

When you stop living in the future or the past everyone becomes new to you. Even the people you have known for decades. In the present moment they are wild mysteries. You don’t expect old patterns from them.  And the less you expect old patterns the less they play out.

Last April at MEA, my imaginal cells came to life and, combined with those of my Brand New Day cohort, I had a new beginning. Today, I find myself looking in the four directions and feeling satisfied with my accomplishments while full of energy to expand my horizons.

Everyday, I am ready to meet my next “wild mystery.” 

Keep kicking.

-Tom

Tom Cosgrove is a Boulder, Colorado civic futurist. He leads New Voice Strategies and its mission of healing divides, restoring compassion and strengthening self government.

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