Sunday, March 1, 2015

The 3 R's of Life

The dictionary * definitions help shed light on the the 3 R's of the reinvention process:   The first R is Radical 

[rad-i-kuh l] 
1. of or going to the root or origin; fundamental:
a radical difference
2. thoroughgoing or extreme, especially as regards change from accepted or traditional forms:
a radical change in the policy of a company.

The second R is Responsible

[ri-spon-suh-buh l]
1. answerable or accountable, as for something within one's power, control, or management (often followed by to or for):
He is responsible to the president for his decisions.
2. involving accountability or responsibility, as in having the power to control or manage:
promoted to a responsible position in the firm.
3. chargeable with being the author, cause, or occasion of something (usually followed by for):
Termites were responsible for the damage.
4. having a capacity for moral decisions and therefore accountable; capable of rational thought or action:
The defendant is not responsible for his actions.

The third R is Reinvent

verb (used with object)
1. to invent again or anew, especially without knowing that the invention already exists.
2. to remake or make over, as in a different form:
At 60, he reinvented himself as a volunteer. We have an opportunity to reinvent government.
3. to bring back; revive:
to reinvent trust and accountability.

Drawing upon these definitions, we can describe the 3 R process of life reinvention as a:

"thoroughgoing and extreme change from your life's accepted and traditional forms in which you invent anew, and remake your life into a new form with accountability -to your self, significant others and the larger community - drawing upon rational thought and action as well as the recognition that you are ultimately the author of your own life."

Whew!  There are those significant times in life that call to us to reinvention.   The signs of such times may come quietly as an inner nudge that you could easily miss or ignore if you are preoccupied or resistant to the idea of change.   Or they come more loudly in the shape of all manner of crises and challenges to your relationships, work, or health.   There are times when some kind of reinvention is unavoidable because life as you once knew it, the form with which you were most familiar,  has dissolved in a moment like salt in weakened broth. **

This is NOT the poster child of midlife radical, responsible reinvention!

Think of radical and responsible as two rails holding the reinvention process on track.    Without both to help hold the course, it is certainly possible to go off the rails and crash.  Radical and responsible are both needed.   Responsible that is not tempered by the radical can lose the capacity for boldness and a necessary risk.   The untempered responsibility can become a disguise for timidity and lack of courage.  Radical that is not tempered by the responsible, however, can certainly wreck havoc.   Acting without some deliberate and hard won consciousness of what you are really up to is one of the great hazards of these times of reinvention.  

* from
** as the poets says-from Kindness, Naomi Shihab Nye