Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Composing a Further Life:The Age of Active Wisdom

Think about putting an addition onto your house.  What will you use the new room for?  Will you buy all new furniture or will you rearrange what you have? Then, think of the "added" 30 years of lifespan that those of us born in the mid-twentieth century have received. Mary Catherine Bateson, begins
Composing a Further Life:The Age of Active Wisdom with this analogy. Ms. Bateson, who was the visiting scholar for the Sloan Center on Ageing and Work at Boston College, interviewed  men and women in the 55-85 age group and used their stories as the basis of her book.

Among my friends, we laugh about feeling like girls despite our years. Sixty is the new forty.  Ms. Bateson would argue that what we really mean is that, sometime long ago, we internalized a concept of what 60 is, based probably on our grandmothers. But our lives have been very different from theirs. Some women of our generation have raised children, some have chosen to work outside the home and some have done both.  I juggled university courses, a teen-age daughter and a new career as a single woman in my forties. Living in an age of advanced technology, we have had more freedom from drudgery than women of earlier times.  Because we live in an age of lifelong learning, we can study and learn new things through Continuing Studies programmes at universities, community centres or online.

What we will put in our new room will be up to us. Composing a further life could mean adding to memories and earlier learning so that our new room will have something of the familiar and something of the new and unexpected. We should welcome people of all ages into our new room: old friends, new friends, and children. As with Bateson's earlier book, Composing a Life, I found this book relevant and easy to read. It gives me inspiration to keep going on my personal renovations.

If you would like to listen to Mary Catherine Bateson speak on this topic, you can visit this website:tedxwomen.org/speakers/mary-catherine-bateson


My grandmother and me (circa 1987 aged 80 and 35)
My mother and me (circa 2007 aged 76 and 55)

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