The whole point of being alive, it seems to me is to continue growing and maturing in order to fulfill a complete life cycle. So, despite the media’s offerings of lasting youth, life is not, to my mind, about staying young or getting younger. Every stage and season of life in nature—and for the human species—is natural, necessary, and integral to the whole. As participants in life, we are intended to experience growth in every life stage or season.
For the infant, every sign of growth and development is applauded. The enthusiasm and praise generally continues for the toddler, pre-schooler, elementary school child, and high schooler. We love to celebrate the landmarks of youth and admire the freshness, enthusiasm, energy, and possibilities in the spring time of life. The potential of the human species is renewed in every child.
It seems, however, that as a culture we find the summer season of life so fascinating and exhilarating that we want to prolong it forever. In our ever summer culture we always look and act young and sexy. There is always more to do, more to acquire. Now that so many activities are ‘easier’ and faster, we can do so much more, and be caffeinated and productive 24/7. Why give it all up to grow old?
Has it come to pass that Boomers are actually tiring of endless summer? Are we learning to appreciate the benefits of an autumn time of life? In fact, autumn is the developmental stage that brings us to true ‘maturity.’ Not the staid, boring, narrow maturity we were once certain would descend when reaching 30. Rather a robust ripeness of being that is expansive, creative, embracing, accepting. And, Boomers are learning that a new extended transitional period is critical to affect the shift from productive worker to ‘retired’ elder.
It seems to me that we even perceive glimmers of a “best yet to come” when we view the winter season of life as a newly extended and activated period that holds the promise to be the most significant and fulfilling life stage. And not just on the individual level, but for the well being of the planet as well if we offer our life experience and wisdom to those who building the future or we hold for others those qualities that uplift humanity.
What then is this thing called “growing old,” when I grow productive, and ripe, and fulfilled, and renewed every cycle of every year? I am no less vitalized and burgeoning this spring in the autumn of my life than I was as a young woman. In fact, now, in what I call the “Maven” stage of life, I enjoy an even deeper awareness and appreciation of every transition, every development, every opportunity to fulfill the meaning of being alive and growing.