Third Arc:Mid-Late Adulthood, Newly Defined

Third Arc (with the previous two also defined) is a term I devised (from personal observation, not scientific research) for the third of several life stages . I borrowed the term arc to represent a person’s life stages from literature, as opposed to the oft-used act, which almost always assumes that the 3rd is the final one, wherein all is resolved and ultimately, the curtain falls.


First Arc I describe broadly as Becoming. It’s when we’re forming up physically, mentally, emotionally, culturally, philosophically, ethically, religiously, personality-wise, chemically, etc. It’s when the norm of life is to be guided, taught, inculcated, led, and educated. It probably comprises a span from gestation through our contiguous schooling.


Second Arc is a time of Practice. This is when we try on and hone selves – the ones that fit expectations, the ones that react against expectations, the ones that we thought we wanted, and the ones about which we changed our minds. We practice by making choices regarding work-paths, love relationships, family relationships, and behaviors. We also practice through the creative, intellectual, spiritual, communal, athletic, social, entertainment, and stress-release outlets and activities we pursue, avoid, and reject. We may hop mindlessly from thing to thing, repeat a thing continuously, or practice/reflect/revise/practice a thing differently. My guess is that virtually all people apply a combination of all these modes to various aspects of life practice, and that this arc runs from some point in our 20s to some point in our 50s, with plenty of room for variance.


In the Third Arc comes Realization. Realization here means both mental “Aha!” moments and reaching – realizing – potentials. This is a time of settling into who we are when we’re not trying to impress, appease or gain approval from others. Of shedding many “shoulds,” looking back with increasingly unguarded honesty, and looking ahead with some level of determination to do “our own thing” and find our own rewards. During this period, we may more readily appreciate our gifts and strengths and accept with equanimity our flaws and vulnerabilities. It’s a time of keeping our own company, for pleasure and/or pain. For many, it’s a time of being an influential adult to children – grandchildren, nieces and nephews, etc. – and to young adults. For some, it’s a time of greater solitude than ever, for others, a time of increased connectedness. Sexuality may be waning or reigniting during this arc, or both – probably, though, it’s changing. Spanning our 50s, 60s and sometimes 70s, this is by no means the end of the story; it’s a new arc, not the last one.


I presume that if a person lives long enough, there will be a fourth, and maybe even a fifth, arc. I’m focusing on the Third Arc, not ending with it.

Third Arc Lit-LetterTM

In theory, this is still a good idea, and not being done by anyone else, but I am shelving it. I did find an organization called One Story that does something similar, publishing one small pamphlet a month with one short story in it, and doing another set for youth-written stories. It's a 501(c)(3) arts organization out of Brooklyn, NY. I've subscribed and really enjoy it. I wish there was a similar thing for poetry, but ruefully, I admit that I won't be creating it. If you want to, zei gezunt, I'll happily give you everything I've got. 

This is a Proof of Concept (POC) test for a democratizing delivery mode for good literature, in this case with a Third Arc audience. We'll be putting out two free test issues in return for feedback. Writers get paid (albeit modestly) in return for accepted submission and feedback. 

Click here to read about subscribing (and giving feedback) to two test issues.

Click here to read the Third Arc Proof of Concept letter for writers.

Click here to submit creative writing (fiction, poetry, non-fiction), cartoons, and artwork.

Lit-letterTM: A publication equivalent in size and format to a newsletter, filled with works of imagination and creativity rather than information. It may be printed, online or electronically distributed for self-printing or e-reading (as in a pdf format). In this project, though, I expect to focus on PDF distribution and printed/mailed formats.

I'm closing this up as well, as it's not money I want from readers, unless it's in the form of buying my books. Please subscribe to this site for updates. is for readers to enjoy my original poetry, fiction, and commentary. It will deliver moments of pleasure, laughter, contemplation, and self-awareness.  I write Me so that you can read You. I'll help you look differently -- sometimes askance! -- in your own mirror.

There's always some free material here, and with a modest subscription -- starting at $1/month -- you'll get 2+ Third Arc posts from me. I'll explore love, pain, religion, angst, silliness, sexuality, bigotry, courage, divorce, spirit, friendship, nature, family, banality, and profundity for your consideration. 

Your patronage: 
1. Focuses me. Promising you that I will write, write, write means that I will write, write, write.  
2. Provides me modest supplemental earnings. (Write or be a greeter at Walmart? I do love grocery stores, but....)
3. Fuels my community engagement and projects. 



  • facebook

©2016 by Rhonda Roesnheck. Proudly created with