The idea that I might look at the period of transition from adulthood into something else came from Dr. Bill Thomas. He called it “the end of adulthood”, I picked up on his thought and added thoughts of my own. Out of that comes “Adulthood’s End”.
I think what I saw was this 18-year-old’s inability to imagine herself aging into someone who looked like us. And I get that. It’s hard to imagine when you’re 18 and your body’s perfect, blooming, unblemished, perky, that you’ll ever look like someone decades older.
To some extent I have identified as a social and environmental activist myself. One part has come out of my time as a park ranger, and another out of my passion for community. Both of them have grown with me, ripening as the years have passed. So that, the activism that now speaks to me is not the activism I grew-up with.
This internship was not starting as I expected. My intuition told me more depth was possible. Trying not to do anything felt very strange. My whole life had been spent doing. I was good at doing.
Changing the culture is hard, and it involves struggle. That struggle doesn’t start in a shopping cart, whether online or at Walmart. It starts between our ears, with the uncomfortable task of confronting our own, largely unconscious, age bias.
An ophthalmologist, my husband Jack underwent years of medical training. When he reflects on this time – particularly the earliest parts of it—he, like many of his ilk, admits to at least a fleeting period of preoccupation with getting or having the symptoms of the diseases he studied. I’ve always wondered, when regaled with his harrowing clinical tales, if such an analog to medical-student syndrome exists and what it might look like for my colleagues and I who study gerontology.
I am becoming more capable of something I could only dream of before. Instead of seeing everything in terms of either/or, I am much more capable of both/and awareness. I am ripening into a more complex awareness, that lets me see that I (like everyone else) am like Creation.
We must resist the temptation to let the seriousness of life turn us into something we’re not. We must stop believing that life is all about gloom and doom instead of light and joy. This post is a challenge to reclaim our joy. It’s a call to seek more from our lives.