I’m loving the conversation brewing around my post Dangerous Myth of Reinvention. A couple readers resonated with my and Marc Freedman’s argument that the myth of dramatic and life altering transformation late in life can potentially be disempowering.
First, reader “peregrinator” writes:
The article presents a well stated beginning in addressing the multiple mythologies surrounding the aging process, “reinvention” being one of the most fascinating, if not infrequently pernicious. There is so much ‘top-down’ culture concerning when ‘aging’ occurs, and the notion that one must press ever backwards (twenty is the new newborn?) is at its very best awkward, and at its worst would seem to want to take an eraser to life experience, as if it were all less than worth while when compared with youth. Time does not run backwards and the sooner that is acknowledged, the better. That said, I have no argument with people who want to start businesses or do as they please with their lives while that doing is possible. Yet all these transformations and reinventions and rebirths appear undignified. Who decides who needs reinvention, transformation and rebirth? Who defines the terms?
And reader John Robinson takes personal issue with reinvention:
I certainly agree with Marc, to a point. We seem to have two dominant cultural aging myths in America – the heroic boomer elder climbing Mt Everest or saving the world with a new enterprise, and the decrepit failing elder stumbling downhill to the end. Marc’s criticism of the reinvention version of the heroic elder is right on. I’m personally tired of the expectation that I should to learn how to surf or start a nonprofit. But the possibility of genuine personal growth and renewal in aging is real. It includes integration along with a whole host of other gifts, many of which involve the continuing evolution of the self, opening the heart, healing old wounds, and transcending the limitation of beliefs in a movement into a transpersonal realm of understanding. I list these kinds of growth opportunities in The Three Secrets of Aging. Because of the profundity of the issues we must address in aging, the pace of psychological and spiritual growth accelerates if we take the “work” of aging seriously.
I’d really love to hear more thoughts from readers on this — please join the conversation here.