stagesOne of the primary reasons I write is that it leads me to insights that get lost in the maelstrom of thoughts often swirling in my mind.   An insight can appear at any time, dropping unexpectedly into the a.m. ramblings I call Morning Pages or appearing in a nostalgic piece on my high school years.   The latter was the case this week on my legacy blog, A Dad’s Legacy, also known as the best written blog nobody reads (yeah, I know … call the whaaambulance).  Looking back on my high school years coming to an end, I wrote, I don’t recall graduation as a big deal because I have always been a man who is ready to move on to the next phase of life.   

I suppose I’ve always seen life a series of stages, which is why Gail Sheehy’s best selling book Passages, didn’t make much of an impression on me.   As an observer of life, I didn’t need to read hundreds of pages of other’s experiences to confirm what I already knew.  And I suppose I knew that for most of my 74 years, I didn’t cling to phases of life but seeing it there on my computer screen shined a light on my life right now.   I realizedhesitant that I have a profound sense that a Phase of my life is coming to an end … and that this time, I’m fighting it.   I find myself holding on to the past and resisting steps forward.   It occurs that it was easy to let go of the past when the next Phase held obvious promise: off to high school after grammar school; living away at college after high school;  jobs and promotions and marriage and children.  What promise does my next life Phase hold?   Physical or mental deterioration?   Watching the same in contemporaries and loved ones?  Downsizing and eventually being dependent on others?  Yikes.

It helps to look back at the decade just closing, which coincides exactly with the existence of Older Eyes – Bud’s Blog.   Receiving my medicare card after so many years of managing my elderly Dad’s medicare was a shock … and was the impetus behind my first post, Feeling Old.   I was not all that enthusiastic about what turned out to be one of the most satisfying and creative decades of my life.  It was a decade in which I started three blogs; watched my business fall into the doldrums then rise again with one of the most interesting projects we’ve ever had; started drawing, painting and taking photos in earnest; and enjoyed ten of our best years of marriage.  Sure, there were signs of physical decline and painful losses but in retrospect, I’d the call decade my Inspired Older Years.  Why?  Because in spite of fears of the future, I didn’t look back.

Psychologist Erik Erickson’s eight stages of psychological development provide the most widely accepted theory of how human beings develop from infancy to old age. At each stage, there is a crisis to be resolved and a virtue to be gained.  According to the theory, failure to properly master each step leads to problems in the future.

Maybe I simply postponed my Maturity Phase by ten years and the time has come to answer Erickson’s key question … Have I lived a full life?   That’s easy.  Yes.  But I’m not done.  That would be to continue extending Erickson’s Middle Adulthood Stage into my late seventies and beyond.  Adults need to create or nurture things that will outlast them, often by having children or creating a positive change that benefits other people. Success leads to feelings of usefulness and accomplishment, while failure results in shallow involvement in the world.  I can do this.  I did it ten years ago.

Explore posts in the same categories: feeling older

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