Seniors: Defining Ourselves All Over Again

Aug 28th, 2009 | By Dr Jerry D Elrod | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Remember when your parents used to mark the wall or a face board showing signs of your growth.  Remember when they no longer did that anymore.  Remember when you went through the age of acne.  Remember when that was no longer important.  Remember when you thought you would never get a date and finally you did.  Remember the first time you ever went to a dance.  Remember getting your license to drive.  Remember all those rites of passage?

Those were the times of defining ourselves, our first selves.  It is a process that repeats itself, under different circumstances, over and again.  If you are 70 or beyond, you are in one of those defining moments.   Hell, if you are 30 or 40 or 50 or 60, so are you as well.  And it doesn’t have to be a clean decade number. It happens and it catches us and is rewarded with labels like ‘mid life crisis.”  My mid life crisis has lasted longer now than mid life.  It is a forever churning moment when who I was has to be redefined into who I am.  Sometimes the transition is smooth and gentle and graceful.  At others, it is a bumpy ride.

Whatever, it is a genuine, first class, without question, look in the mirror event when the symbols and labels of “older age” begin to apply.  The classifications that defined you when you were employed, or in school, or living in a suburb, or volunteering in community organizations, or getting a promotion, or attending soccer games, or taking care of your yard and house on weekends, all begin to require reexamination and redefinition.  Those events no longer define you.

Seniors find themselves defining their “who am I” issues much differently.  They tend more to “how much longer do I have?”  They echo the questions of earlier in adolescence when the search was on for how all this life thing came about.  Now, however, the questions turn on a dime to “what did I do to make a difference?” 

Now we are caught in the tension that asks “was I worthy,”  did I do well with my family, my purpose in life, my job,.  Better said, did I make any real difference?  The mirror and the peeks inside the heart tell me I have changed.  I know that.  But was I a person of authenticity?  Did I serve out my allotted productive time in ways that left some mark, at least a slight indentation with someone, somewhere?

Defining ourselves is an undertaking which some do with aplomb.  Others ignore fully.  Some struggle, some dance.  Some see it as a chore, others as a flight into another fantasy, another adventure.  It is out there, this defining thing.  It either needs to be faced or not.  The bottom line is being comfortable with who you are, likely a combination or concoction of all that has gone before, with some things appropriately discarded.  You are you.  In the ancient words of Pogo, the comic strip, “we have met the enemy and he is us.”   So take on your enemies slay them, come out the white knight with foot and lance firmly planted on your enemy’s head.  Arise and take on the windmills of your mind and the world.  BE.



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