The Runway Grows Shorter

By Jo Mooy

Your life journey happens on the runway, and it maps to the decades of major life passages.

21st century know-how—fabled technology—military might—medical miracles—scientific genius! None of it mattered when a microscopic virus stopped the world in its tracks. Whatever held us enthralled in early 2020 came to screeching halt. I don’t know anyone who was unaffected when the pause button was pushed.

During my Days of The Pause, after the initial fear that we’re all gonna die passed, I became a cinematographer. Then a “don’t hold your breath for a recording contract” guitar player. I read lots of books. I bought a new set of watercolors. They’re still not opened. I wrote articles for future retreat books. Would in-person retreats ever return? I gained weight. I lost weight. Then I stopped doing things. That was the most therapeutic. I sat for hours pondering the world’s plight and knew that nothing would ever be the same.

I’m not a “Bible person.” I only know two things from the Bible—the 23rd Psalm and “To everything there’s a season,” which I mostly learned from the song “Turn Turn Turn” by the Byrds. During a morning of major Pause Ponderings Ecclesiastes floated into my mind. To everything there is a season and a purpose under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to tear down and a time to heal. A time to love and a time to hate. A time to be silent and a time to speak. A time for war and a time for peace. Every crisis happening all over the world fit snugly into one of those sentences.

Then the deeper dive began. What was my role in all of it? Did I still have one? If so, how will it look? Will it change? Of course it would because I was no longer the same. My grandson’s college graduation reminded me of my own. So I trolled a life review. The roads I took in life weren’t by chance. Each detour supported some of my aspirations and goals. I punted on a few of them—like the Peace Corps or becoming a forest ranger. I didn’t do either though they were near the top of my list after graduation. Others panned out in ways I hadn’t expected. What stood out the most vividly wasn’t the missed goals. Rather it was the “runway.”

Everybody has a runway. It starts at birth and ends with death. The journey happens on the runway. It has a limited amount of time. It subtly defines you. It maps to the decades of major life passages, like birth, puberty, school, marriage, jobs, having children, grandchildren, and death. At the beginning of the runway, you’re young and filled with inspiration and passion to make a mark and get things done. You’re convinced you’re unique and that you have all the time in the world. You don’t! But it takes around the sixth decade on the runway to realize that.

I call my good friend of forty-plus years, “Em3.” Our runways run parallel, though our beliefs and politics are polar opposite. Anything occurring on the national stage, especially political, prompts a fierce sparring match. We once went at it like gladiators. Today we go at it like two aging Sumo wrestlers. At the end of the match we always “agree to disagree” because the friendship ultimately means more than the politics—which changes like the weather.

Recently Em3 told me she was depressed and sad. I asked her if she was ill. She said, “No, it’s about the country.” I asked her to clarify what she was talking about because I don’t watch opinion news. She presented a long list of concerns along with her biggest fear that the United States, the country she loved, was going to disappear. I told her all empires rise and fall, even the great Roman Empire only lasted 1,000 years. That didn’t sit well. Because she’s well-versed in Bible lore, I offered the one thing that helps keep me sane when chaos reigns and the entire world feels out of control: To everything there is a season and a purpose under heaven. A time for war and a time for peace. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to be born and a time to die.

I asked her what she thought two aging matrons could do to solve any of the current issues? Did she envision us leading an army of gray haired women on walkers or canes and marching on Washington? After the laughter we reminisced on the past. Once upon a time both of us marched on Washington – she for her cause, me for mine. We called congress to complain. We wrote exquisite letters to senators that our Jesuit teachers would be proud of. We lobbied. We cared passionately and enthusiastically. The journey in the middle of the runway was a heady time.

Today, we’re both in our seventh decade. Our time is running out. The runway grows much shorter. The point of “lift off” is coming. We gave it our all and we fought the good fight for our causes. But that shorter runway in front of us means focusing on the future, not on what’s happened. Legions of younger women and men are behind us. Their runways are much longer than ours. It’s their world now, just as it once was ours. It’s time to let go and pass the baton over. It’s up to them now to do what needs to be done and to do it in their way. It’s no longer ours.

Every generation has a season and a time. Our parents taught us their values then passed the torch over to us. We did the same with our children and grandchildren. Will they do it better? I’m sure they will. All the runways seem endless when you’re young. But they will grow shorter. Empires rise and fall. And to everything there’s a season and a purpose. Our purpose now? Heal in silence! All will be well. It always is.

Jo Mooy has studied with many spiritual traditions over the past 40 years. The wide diversity of this training allows her to develop spiritual seminars and retreats that explore inspirational concepts, give purpose and guidance to students, and present esoteric teachings in an understandable manner. Along with Patricia Cockerill, she has guided the Women’s Meditation Circle since January 2006 where it has been honored for five years in a row as the “Favorite Meditation” group in Sarasota, FL, by Natural Awakenings Magazine. Teaching and using Sound as a retreat healing practice, Jo was certified as a Sound Healer through Jonathan Goldman’s Sound Healing Association. She writes and publishes a monthly internationally distributed e-newsletter called Spiritual Connections and is a staff writer for Spirit of Maat magazine in Sedona. For more information go to or email

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