By Tom Hinton

Not far from my front door is a beautiful park where I enjoy walking in the early morning just after sunrise. Frequently, as I’ve completed my morning walk, I’ve seen an elderly woman arrive with her flower basket and pruning tools in one hand and a small three-legged stool in the other hand. She comes to tend to the many rose bushes that grace our neighborhood park.

Along the south entrance to the park is an arching trellis that sports several bush forms of Hybrid Teas and Floribundas. Over the years, the flower lady has trained the long canes to grow in a horizontal position in order to produce more blooms. These climber roses can’t attach themselves to the trellis, so the flower lady dutifully ties the canes onto the trellis arch for support.

Over the years, my neighbors and I have enjoyed watching these beautiful roses grow as we meander through the park and appreciate the variety of roses including hybrids, ramblers, heirlooms and even wild species roses that sprouted many decades ago and continue to blossom each year thanks to the nurturing care of the rose lady.

From time to time, I’ve reflected on the life cycle of a rose because it closely resembles our own life cycle. Experts tell us that roses can live forever with proper care. They seed, grow and flower all in the same season. And, if pruned to about 12 inches from the ground in early spring, more roses will bloom in the summer. Although roses are perennials, most of these delicate flowers require the tender, loving hand of someone like the rose lady to rejuvenate and display their beauty.

From a spiritual perspective, people require the same attention and maintenance. Like roses, we must be nurtured, cared for, pruned and even disbudded from time to time in order to rejuvenate and blossom repeatedly. Our pruning process is dependent on our Ego, Emotions and Inner Spirit. It’s through the three legs of our human essence that we evolve and grow. But, just like the rose, we also must endure a disbudding phase when things don’t go our way and life throws challenges and barriers in our path. And, like the rose, we learn to overcome these setbacks and defeats only to grow stronger and more beautiful with each pruning life lesson.

The Course of 10,000 Days reminds us that people are like roses. The average human being lives about 30,000 days. That equates to just over 82 years. We go through three very distinct life cycles every 27 years or so. The Course of 10,000 Days refers to these three cycles as our Discovery Years, Fulfillment Years and Legacy Years. While roses are perennials and grow and bloom over spring and summer, people take about 10,000 days or 27 years to evolve and mature through each life cycle.

Our Discovery Years, ages 1-27, are typically spent developing our personality and ego, learning values, shaping our character and behavior, and creating lifelong bonds with our family and friends. It’s during our Discovery Years that we attempt to discover our gifts and talents, and exercise our creativity. We also learn how to assess risks, make mistakes and rebound, expand our minds, learn social graces, receive a formal education, plot our career path, forge our political beliefs and values, challenge the status quo, set goals and discover the power and pitfalls of money and romance.

Our second 10,000 days are our Fulfillment Years, ages 27-54. Most people spend their Fulfillment Years building their resume, acquiring money, searching for a life companion, starting a family, laying down roots, striving to achieve their goals, traveling and consuming all the world has to offer.

Ironically, as many people complete their Fulfillment Years, they come to realize they are, in fact, unfulfilled because they have failed to live their dreams or achieve their goals. Unlike the rose, which takes its shape, color and beauty from nature’s cue, people take their cue primarily from their ego. When we realize that our Fulfillment Years have been reduced to climbing the corporate ladder, chasing someone else’s definition of success, and keeping up with the Joneses, we yearn for all our yesterdays.

It’s a stark moment in our lives when we come to the realization that we squandered our best years living someone else’s dream instead of pursuing our own. It’s distressing to realize that we are completely ego-driven and have little connection with our Inner Spirit, nor any satisfactory explanation as to who we really are and why we exist on a spiritual level.

When we arrive at this quiescent point in our life, it marks the beginning of a major transformation or a series of life changes. Just like the rose, which in the dead of winter appears dormant and lifeless, there is a strange phenomenon taking place deep within us. This is the point when we come face-to-face with our third 10,000 days, known as our Legacy Years. It’s at this moment – usually around our mid-50s -- that we realize something significant in our life is missing. Like the rose that seeks the earth’s nutrients and sunshine, we yearn for purpose, peace and a sense of passion in life. Only the gentle, steady guiding hand of our Inner Spirit can help us find these attributes within ourselves. But how do we reconnect with our Inner Spirit?

Ultimately, nature provides the way for us just like the rose. When we ask our Inner Spirit to help us find meaningful answers to life’s most difficult questions, we will be transformed. Like the rose that receives energy from the sun as winter yields to spring, our Inner Spirit is the nutrient that helps us discover our higher purpose and leads us to a life of happiness and fulfillment. But first, we must realize that our ego is incapable of answering life’s most humbling questions and guiding us to our destiny. Only our Inner Spirit is capable of doing this. It is simply part of our human design.

The natural cycle of life allows us time – 10,000 Days – to discover our higher purpose and find happiness and fulfillment. It’s during our Legacy Years that we can blossom into a spiritual being and, like the rose, allow our natural beauty to emerge. Of course, we must do this despite the fact that our ego will fight us. Like an ugly weed in the garden, our ego attempts to dominate our Inner Spirit in order to remain in control.

But, like the rose lady who appears faithfully several times each week to nurture and prune the roses in our park, you must strive to allow your Inner Spirit to be heard and act if you want to create a life worth remembering and live your dreams. That is what The Course of 10,000 Days teaches us and helps us accomplish.

Factors such as your age, gender, geographic location and education level have very little to do with your ability to succeed in completing this important transformation. More important is your commitment and willingness to open your heart and mind so that you can experience an inner awakening that will bring about those positive changes and results you desire. Ultimately, as our Inner Spirit surfaces and guides us, we are like the rose that emerges from a blanket of deep white snow to become a beautiful flower for all to admire. If we take the time to cultivate our Inner Spirit, we can realize our dreams and highest aspirations. This is how we create meaning and purpose in our lives and live a life worth remembering.

Author's Bio: 

Tom Hinton is one of America’s most respected authors and speakers on Personal Growth, Work-Life Balance and Achieving Your Human Potential. He is the author of four books including: 10,000 Days: The Rest of Your Life, the Best of Your Life which is available on For information, visit: