Last week I convened another discussion on “thoughtful aging.” Amid the talk of life’s mixed gifts, Kathryn C. gifted me with an “Aha Moment”–“When I retired, I was giddy I was so happy! Such freedom!” Something rang hauntingly familiar. When Kathryn said “freedom” I heard Richie Havens strumming and chanting at Woodstock. And then I got it. This freedom the olders talk of–from the need to meet others’ expectations, from the need to conform–it’s the freedom the hippies were talking about back in the 1960s!
The older people I know tell me they feel more free than ever in their lives. THIS is the gift waiting for you if you choose Door Number Three–the outlook Dr. Bill Thomas calls “Age Enthusiasts” in his book Second Wind (which I review here.) In that book Dr. Thomas praised hippies for their willingness to “reject the adulthood on offer and explore new, nonadult ways of living beyond childhood.” I think that’s what some of us are up to now–we’re exploring ways to live as nonadults. And we are giving ourselves as much permission to daydream glorious alternatives as we did in our day-glo twenties.
Kathryn wasn’t done speaking. “I have freedom. But to what purpose?” she asked.
I put the questions to you:
- What was the “freedom” you longed for, fought for, when you were a young adult? Describe it.
- As you grow older, what purpose do you envision for the freedom that will increasingly be yours? See it. Tell it.
Seriously. Send me your answers. Let’s see some “freedom” essays here on True Stories Well Told.
p.s. If you want to be part of the conversation, join me at my Facebook group, Thoughtful Aging-Madison.