60 +: The Age of Blooming
I entered the Third Age by looking at its challenges, many challenges. I will deal with only a few of the challenges. The challenges have to do with the interior aspects of aging: the loss of a role/identity and the experience of a particular quality of loneliness.
The Loss of a Role Identity
In a party or a meeting, people often ask, “what-do you do?” I reply. “I’m retired”. Well, when you don’t do anything useful in our American society, who are you anyway? One of the saddest thing of aging is the blurring of identity. One’s identity is the deposit of experiences, relationships and roles. When these are taken away, you are not sure who you are anymore. Who are you when there is nothing you must do nothing you have to do.
The particular quality of loneliness in aging is somewhat different from the loneliness of the first and second age.
In the Third Age, loneliness persists despite the very warm closeness of family and friends. Happily, our language has wisely sensed the two sides of being alone. It has created the word “loneliness” to express the pain of being alone, and it has created the word “solitude” to express the glory of being alone. I am delighted to announce that loneliness can be conquered by those who can bear solitude.
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