Messages for men at each stage of life

In As You Like It, Shakespeare writes of the seven ages of man. Perhaps because the famous lines are spoken by the melancholy Jacques, they're not optimistic. Starting with "mewling and puking" in infancy, Shakespeare takes us through the aging process, from "whining" youth to the "round belly" of middle age, only to end with the "second childishness" of old age.

Nobody has ever matched the Bard's verse, and few can rival his understanding of human nature. Still, much has changed in 400 years, and technology has taken us to remarkable new places. In advanced societies, at least, life is longer, healthier, and better than ever before. But there is still an ebb and flow to life, with each stage having its unique strengths and vulnerabilities.

We were recently asked to offer a simple message to men at each stage of life. It's a daunting task — not because of Shakespeare's long shadow, but because there is so much to learn at every age and because the lessons learned at any age apply to them all. Even so, at the risk of oversimplification (and with apologies to Will), here is a message for each stage of life.

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