Story and Why
Four Year Cycle
Some four year cycles can
influence us in important ways.
Article by Tom Gilbert - ©
The Summer Olympics recently wrapped up. Once again we had great
athletic achievements and more stories of struggle and triumph. The
Games are the ultimate stage and challenge for the Olympic athletes
from more than 200 countries. A lot of preparation happened in the four
years between the 2008 Olympics in Beijing to London in 2012. Athletes
trained hard, competing in Olympic trials and earning the right to
represent their countries. We saw some repeat champions and some bright
new stars. Each and every one has a story about their four year journey
to the major global event.
I’ve been pondering how much our lives can change over a four year cycle.
Some four year cycles can influence us in important ways. Every four
years in the United States we hold a presidential election. Our
education system for High School and College revolves around four year
The calendar changes every four years with the addition of an extra day in February. We call it a leap year.
Economists and investors often look at the performance of stocks over a four year period.
Some people even teach the span of history in a four year cycle:
Ancients 6000 BC – AD 400, Medieval/Early Renaissance 400-1600,
Late Renaissance/Early Modern 1600-1850 and Modern 1850-present.
For life story purposes I thought it might be interesting to consider
our life events over four year cycles. I’m not saying there is
something magical or especially significant for our personal histories
by looking at four year periods. But enough can happen over such a span
that it can be helpful for your life reminiscing.
I’ve had some interesting experiences from 2008 to 2012.
Near the end of 2008 I was let go from my radio broadcasting job.
I’d been working in broadcasting for thirty years, but for this
particular company the last (yes, wait for it) four years. I’d
also been developing my personal history business for some four years.
There was a long stretch of unemployment in 2009 followed by the
discernment of a new career direction. As my financial obligations were
more than the income I was earning from life story work I eventually
took a job working in patient placement and staffing at a University
hospital. I also returned to school for certification as a K-8
elementary/middle school teacher. I began working as a substitute
teacher and continued that for the next two years while earning my
education degree. Then I taught social studies to middle school
students (6, 7, & 8 grades) during the 2011 to 2012 school year.
Following that I’ve had a renewed and re-emphasized focus on
personal history work.
During the past four years my daughter got married and I became a
grandfather. My son graduated from High School. My wife and I are newly
In January of this year my father passed away (Mother preceded him in
2006). As a result my sister and brother-in-law moved from Kansas City
where they had lived for over thirty years to Albuquerque, where I
currently live. We are now enjoying the opportunity to spend more time
together and getting to know each other anew in our second half of life.
I’ve watched family members grow up and grow older. Some of my
god-children are now adults or teenagers. One of them, a niece, just
started High School, putting her on a new 4 year cycle.
It’s been an interesting exercise for me to consider my own life
these past four years. How about you? What life events have taken
place; what lessons have you learned? Mary Oliver asks it well in her
poem, The Summer Day, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with
your one wild and precious life?”