Not long ago, I had coffee with a former student — a darling, talented woman of late middle age whom I am delighted to have in my life. In a way, we’ve watched each other grow and so there’s a comfortable history between us. Nonetheless, I was taken aback when I told her I was considering selling my house and her suggestion was that I look into an assisted living facility with its full range of care.
Frankly, till that moment, I’d been thinking of moving to Palm Springs and buying a bikini.
Her remark came to mind again this afternoon as I read an essay by Robert Epstein in Scientific Mind . The writer was expressing his concern about the number labels we pin on the young to prevent them from taking their place as adults in our society. (“Yet Another Stage of Life?” by Robert Epstein, Scientific Mind, Jan/Feb. 2012,Pgs. 18-19) As if “adolescence” weren’t sufficient, for some reason we’ve added “young adult,” he complains. And now there’ s a new term, “emerging adults.” It references young people who, forced by a poor economy, continue to live with their parents. All this labeling can’t be good, Epstein worries.
I wish I could sympathize with the author, but frankly, I take a different view. Why should the young get to slow down the hand of time and not those of us on the downhill side of life? Why aren’t there more stages between being grown-up and being old? I think people in their 40s and 50s ought to be thought of as “early mature.” Then those of us between 60-70 could call ourselves “middle mature.” People in their 80s and 90s, might be labeled “fully mature.” And those who’ve reached 90 and beyond, having successfully cheated death for so long, should be revered as “cleverly mature.” Yeah, that works for me.
(Courtesy of welcomehomedesmoines.com)