Home Concepts Adult Development Essay XVII: Moving from Generativity Two to Generativity Three–Returning to Major Life Issues

Essay XVII: Moving from Generativity Two to Generativity Three–Returning to Major Life Issues

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Brad’s life decisions don’t match societal expectations, and this is very disconcerting for him. So what should we as potential men and women of Autumn do about these voices? Which option should the man or women in their 50’s or 60’s chose? If they respond right away, then these mid-centurions must confront a mismatch with societal expectations. If they defer their response until the appropriate age to retire (65 or 70), then these voices might become impatient. Similarly, the men and women who are already 65 or 70 years old and wish to keep working find a mismatch. Either of these challenged mid-centurions might end-up being destructive to themselves and the people they love. If they compromise and respond to only some of their voices, they may pick the wrong ones and incur the disapproval of society and the vengeance of other unacknowledged voices. What should these men and women do? It is no wonder that we often hope these silly or threatening voices will go away.

We have a fourth option as mid-centurion men and women. We can fill our living rooms with activity again and hope that this activity will drown-out the voices. As men and women in our 50’s and early 60’s we can go back to work, get a “real job” once again, and forget about our mid-life “identity crisis.” As mid-centurions in our late 60’s and early 70’s, we can “act our age” and settle into traditional retirement. Sadly, the activities in which we engage at either juncture in our life never seem to be very gratifying. Going back to a “real job” leaves us feeling compromised and trapped. Going on to retirement, when we really want to keep working, leaves us feeling worthless and bored. The result is that societal expectations lead us down a path of stagnation.

Many of us choose this fourth option, at least on a temporary basis. We opt for denial. We discount the meaning inherent in the seemingly random events that arouse the voices from other rooms. It would be a bit odd to say that the offer Samuel received to play in a rock and roll band, or Jane’s opportunity to play in a basketball league, comes from some source of inner guidance. The request by Ricardo’s wife that he do more cooking wasn’t somehow “meant to be.” It sounds a bit spooky for most of us who are not true believers. To suggest that an event has inherent meaning and is somehow intended as a message to tell us something or guide us back to our earlier interests and dreams seems to be too much like the mumbo-jumbo of “new age” spirituality.

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