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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That is why we are drawn to the phenomenon called “strange attraction.” This concept, coming from chaos scientists, is neither pop psychology nor new age spirituality. Rather it is forwarded by serious researchers who try to make sense of our physical world. In so doing they have discovered that there are “strange attractors” everywhere. There is good reason to believe that this same process operates in the lives of mid-centurion men and women who are on the edge of Generativity Three and Four. Events have meaning in their life not so much because of some greater power in life, though this could be the case. Rather, events have meaning and power because certain small events tend at a particular place and time to link with and trigger other events. They trigger memories, interests, dreams and eventually actions.

These “strange attractor” events form a pattern that is compelling and can serve as a guide for our continuing generativity and the re-invention of our life as a woman or man of Autumn. A rabbi we know talks about the “assemblage” of small, meaningful events and decisions in our lives. Taken together these events and decisions comprise a person’s “spiritual life.” He suggests that spirituality is not some big, powerful, isolated event. Rather it is constituted from a whole cluster of small events. What happens when we ignore these “strange attractor”? What happens when we choose massive denial and make the wrong decision? We face stagnation—a loss of spirit and an absence of soul. We withdraw and become “mean spirited,” turning our spirit into a negative force.

The stagnant mid-centurion resents others of his or her age when they remain engaged in the world. The mid-centurion resorts to sarcasm and resistance, having abandoned hope and ambition. He or she often resents the young men and women who are newly engaged in the world. Like Scrooge, the stagnant person focuses on one thing at the expense of all other aspects of life. For Scrooge that one thing was money. The stagnant obsession for Scrooge-like mid-centurions in real life may concern power, position, traditional family values, or an old political cause. They strive toward goals such as the acquisition of wealth or power that no longer really have meaning for them.

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