This blog has a new category that will receive more than its share of posts. It is called Coming of Age. Yeah yeah, I know. That phrase has always been used to describe the transition to adulthood—you know— debutante balls, legal drinking, voting, moving away from home…all that.
Coming of AN Age can describe the other end of the life spectrum as well. Line dancing at the senior center; drinking more than one glass of wine means you wake up in the middle of the night; what good has voting all these years done; and last but not least…you’re now moving INTO the ‘home.’
Remember Erik Erikson’s Stages of Life (www.intropsych.com), published in 1950, from Psych 101. And now here I am, years later, deep in #8.
All those years ago in that first psych class I thought I understood Erikson’s Stages but not until recently did that last stage make sense to me. According to Erikson the conflict in old age is integrity versus despair; the resolution is wisdom; and the result “Existential identity; a sense of integrity strong enough to withstand physical disintegration.”
Even though I disagree with the onset of old age being 65, the description of what that term represents is right on target. I can see where it will be harder and harder to keep it all together versus despairing about the ever-closer proximity to death, but that as this struggle continues both serenity and wisdom will be enhanced. As a practicing existentialist I believe that living each day as though what you do, share, accomplish is what matters—which makes it essential to overlook (as much as possible) how many aches, pains or wrinkles are accruing.
During the Big Trip of September and October, I had a ‘coming of age’ epiphany that represents a passage for me. Since nothing bad has happened in my life, I figure this is one of those life passages that Gail Sheehy described in her book, Passages (1976)—a pathway from one age to the next. I haven’t read that book in a long while but the main message I took from it is that life’s passages are more important than the plateaus between. So this fall’s changes give me much to ponder.
To Be Continued.