Imagine this: Two cups, one containing sugar and the other containing sand. You pour the sugar into a large bowl. Then you carefully pour the sand on top. Next, you take a tweezers and pick up each grain, separating the sand and sugar back into their respective cups. How long do you think it would […]
During the past 20 years, I’ve worked as an executive in aging services, partnering with some of the best in the field. For the most part, we all slept soundly at night, the missions were strong, the culture was healthy, and satisfaction scores were good. Despite all of that success, there has been a gnawing inside of me that I can’t seem to shake.
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.