As many of you know, I am hard at work on a new book. The Tribes of Eden is out in the world and we will be doing some pretty fun stuff to get the word out about that book but…
I also have to think about the next book. As part of that effort, I thought I might sketch out the key ideas in the new book just to see if I can express them clearly.
[I would add to any emerging writers out there that I have found that writing clearly is rarely a problem if I can think clearly. Thinking clearly, I should add, is very hard work and not all that much fun.]
Here it goes…
1) Members of the Post War (Baby Boom) generation are gradually becoming aware that something big is changing. They don’t know what it is, but they are pretty sure that they don’t like it. If they think about it all all they might have the feeling that life is out of balance. They sense that they are increasingly living in a way that calls for another way of living.
2) People feeling pressured to change how they think, how they live, how they feel, talk, walk and act are living inside a personal “crucible.” The most universal crucible experiences come with the change from one phase of life to another. Regular readers of this blog already know that we see the contemporary human lifespan as consisting of three distinct life stages.
3) From here, the book expands its frame of reference to take in the Post War generation as a whole. When we do so, we find that this exceptionally large, incredibly dense and culturally transformative generation also has a lifespan. The Post War generation’s First Crucible played out in the years when its many millions of members were passing out of Childhood and into Adulthood, in other words during the 1960’s and 1970’s.
4) After the First Crucible, the Post War generation settled in to a long, slow, steady slog through Adulthood. The generation did what it has always done, it magnified the life stage that as it moved through it. Adulthood became hyper-kinetic, super-productive, ultra-caffeinated and turbo-charged. This malignant enlargement of Adulthood has done more than anything else to reshape American culture into the self-image of the Post War generation. Our relationship with time, money, family, work and wealth have all been remade.
5) Now we come to the Second Crucible. Because of the relentless workings of time and age. The Post War generation now stands on the cusp of a new Crucible. The Second Crucible will transport scores of millions of Boomers out of Adulthood and into the uncharted realms of Elderhood.
6) This Second Crucible will be much more challenging than the first. Our culture has no maps, no rituals, no milestones to guide us. This will be the last great adventure of the Post War generation and it will offer members of that generation a rich set of opportunities to set right the many wrongs that came into being during their long reign as Adults.
Hi Bill and All at ChangingAging,
After reading Dr. Richard Taylor’s recent awesome, humorous, and biting post (his reaction to the Feds and all the political wrangling over funding for Alzheimer’s) over at Peter Whitehouse’s “The Myth of Alzheimer’s” website, I got inspired to come here and chime in. Wrote a big wordy response to the blog “Successful Aging = Elderhood”, in which I made an attempt to address the Alaska Native’s four elements of Eldership and integrate that teaching within the frame of contemporary gerontology, ecology, and social activism. I thought if I did so, it might at least provoke deeper contemplation of the rich complexities involved in any conception of Elderhood, which might in turn generate a response from the Native American community…many different tribes of whom reside right here in my own state of Oregon. I am not happy with what I wrote yet, so I decided to work on it some more before posting.
Meanwhile I came here, and would like to share a few quotes that I’ve gathered from an eclectic mix of Elders who I respect and admire. to complement and/or contrast with the Alaska Native Elder’s four elements of Physical Health, Emotional Well-Being, Social Engagement, and Spirituality. (By the way, I think it is very interesting that nowhere in the four Eldership elements is any specific reference to being “intelligent” or “knowledgeable”):
“Applying a kind of logic to every situation in life is simply irrational.” – Aristotle
“Words are not just wind. Words have something to say. But if the thing that words refer to is not fixed and is always changing, then do words really say anything? …Where can I find a man who has forgotten words, so I can have a conversation with him?”
– Chuang Tzu, Chinese Philosopher (p. 16; The Inner Chapters)
“I cannot support the theory that human longevity is the artificial result of civilization, its science and its social networks, yielding a crop of living mummies, paradoxes suspended in a twilight zone. The old as ‘retards’…Instead, let us entertain the idea that character requires the additional years and that the long last of life is forced upon us neither by genes nor by conservational medicine nor by societal collusion. The last years confirm and fulfill character.”
– James Hillman (1999) “The Force of Character”
“The more sand that has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.”
“Those who are convinced they have a monopoly on The Truth always feel that they are only saving the world when they slaughter the heretics…”
– Arthur Schlesinger
“The sum of all knowledge is greater confusion. The intellect runs away with itself. Mind is not intellect. The intellect is a product of the ego, and the ego can never be stilled, never be satisfied. When do we begin to know what we know? When we have ceased to believe that we can ever know. Truth comes with surrender. And it’s wordless. The brain is not the mind; it is a tyrant which seeks to dominate the mind.”
– Henry Miller (from his 1958 novel “Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch”)
“We are not what we know, but what we are willing to learn.”
-Mary Catherine Bateson
Cheers! And best wishes on your new book…
How come jsingah has “5 pts” next to her name, and I have “0 pts”….?
In a sense, I disagree with your statement: “Our culture has no maps, no rituals, no milestones to guide us” as we Boomers enter our second crucible. The prior generations certainly passed on to us certain maps/rituals/milestone, and we have absorbed some and revised others and rejected others. I think there needs to be some recognition of the elements we are incorporating even as we, typically, try to improve upon them/others, or even accept some (amazing). And, another thought, have accepted some we haven’t yet realized we shouldn’t. Now don’t go asking me for any examples of any of these ideas–that’s the hard thinking you are fortunate to be doing. LOL? Seriously, enjoy!
Joan from “50toDeath” again. Long time no write. I love the ideas for your new book. We tried dealing with cusp of the crucible with humor when we created our web series. Now it seems that every day the fires are burning higher and the path is thornier and more confusing. We don’t want to follow our parents’ ritual journey to Florida and the golf course, our younger colleagues are disdaining and ignoring us more and more, but what is the new “Elderhood?” I love that you call it an “adventure.” I’m ready for it! Let’s go!