bits from bob....
Reference: William H. Thomas, M.D., What are old people for? VanderWyk & Burnham, 2004.
Note: Thomas is a Harvard-educated physician with a continuing interest in the nature of long-term care communities.
Our lives are characterized by a dynamic, unfolding interplay being doing and being. Every phase of life-childhood, adolescence, adulthood, senescence, and elderhood all have these dynamics playing out in various ways.
Consider this brief summary:
Consider an illustration which contrasts typical adulthood and senescence. How does one go about the process of baking cookies? For adults, it is one more thing to do on a long list. Children are banished from the process, or included with apprehension. The senescent is more likely to want to bake cookies than to have to bake cookies. Children are more welcome. Bizarre and experimental shapes are the rule. Eating raw cookie dough is encouraged.
This illustrates the adult's focus on doing and the senescent's search for being. The adult is focused on the task, the senescent on the relationships. Senescence is a time of letting go of the comfort of adulthood, and reaching out to something new and different. This is a function of culture and shared expectations. It is parallel to the ripening process, maturation. This is preparation for the final stage of human development. What could be more beautiful?
Aging is gradual, rhythmic and highly choreographed. It's the main course of life and its consequences are well known. No one goes to bed with vitality and wakes up old. The progression observed and celebrated is the course of the genuine, and unique, power of aging gracefully.
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