Arthur Brooks in his book, From Strength to Strength, tells the story of Beethoven. He was trained by great composers and musicians. His talent in composing and on the piano was off the charts. He gradually became deaf in his 30s and what musician can operate without their hearing?
Beethoven’s last decade of his life (he died at 56) was his finest. He had compositions in his head that finally came out. Most historians would agree that Beethoven’s compositions in those last years were his greatest and they changed the world of music. Probably his greatest work was his Ninth Symphony, composed when he was completely deaf. This contains the magnificent “Ode to Joy” in its composition.
The point is this: we all face tragedy in our lives. We are not immune. Tragedy can, indeed, define us. The question is HOW will it define us?
Your greatest work, your greatest accomplishments, your greatest joys may be ahead and flow directly from the tragedy you have suffered. Do not let tragedy define “the end.” Let it redirect your life into something powerful and significant.
As I think about “Last Third Living” in my own life, it is necessary to understand I cannot let what is inevitable (hardship or tragedy) halt my life. Ever. I can learn from the tragedy if I will embrace it.