So what’s next? This week is my birthday. 68 years on this planet! (I always forget how OLD I really am.)
The first 66 years were a lot of doing.
- Being a kid and doing kid things within a solid, happy family.
- Growing up in the Midwest during the 60s but not being part of the turbulence of that decade.
- Getting married and raising my family during my 20s through my 40s.
- Becoming an active community member in my 50s – lots of volunteer and board work while moving through a couple of professions.
It has been a full, busy, and sometimes hectic life. Though I have always found time for learning and formal education, I never took the time for much introspection. I felt I needed to be DOING, and I still feel that way.
- I am energized by classes to learn about new interests or hone my skills.
- Reading always expands my horizons with nonfiction and takes me away from reality with fiction.
- Travel pushes the boundaries of my natural inclination to nest.
But it’s not enough. I keep looking for what’s next?
The past couple of years have been a time of Thinking. Remembering. Questioning. I’ve come face-to-face with my mistakes, unwise decisions, missed opportunities, and personal imperfections – realizing that at times I have disappointed myself, and probably others, along this life journey.
I get frustrated with myself for what seems like flitting from one thing to another. Why don’t I just focus on my writing or photography or digital manipulation or drawing or knitting or cooking or community service? Why do I keep hopping around? Am I so unfocused? Am I shallow? Or will all of this connect? What’s next?
A new and very special friend sent me a copy of Living with Intensity*.
This book is a discussion of the theories of Kazimierz Dabrowski (1902-1980), a Polish psychiatrist and psychologist who was interested in the emotional and intellectual development of gifted youth. I had never heard of Dabrowski before yesterday, but I am delighted to make his acquaintance!
In a nutshell, his theory is that human development is characterized by reflection, self-evaluation, and the urge for inner transformation. And this process can occur throughout our lives! It is not something that only children or adolescents go through. It is a process of growth that we can experience at any age (even 68).
But it’s not an easy process. There is a lot of anguish and frustration involved with self-questioning. For some people, it’s overwhelming. They cannot push through the process and so they stop. The frustration, depression, or anger takes over or they settle. I was at this point. I couldn’t see where I was going and was trying to tell myself to just relax and coast in my retirement. Don’t worry about what’s next.
After the first few chapters of Living with Intensity, I am ok with the negative feelings towards myself, because I can see that I’m going through a process of self development. I’m not spinning my wheels or failing to follow through on anything. I am coming up against some hard ah-ha realizations as part of a journey to the next phase of my life.
It may take me quite awhile to get through this book. It’s not light reading, but it is very thought provoking. I’m sure there will be elements/issues/ideas that will need clarification, and this blog is my place for that clarification.
My what’s next? What is the purpose of my senior years.
I honestly believe that my children may be the greatest gift I could ever offer the world, but they are now their own people and I am a shadow in their lives. At this platinum stage of my life, I know that there is something more. I will continue this push for self transformation so that I can find that something. I will continue to live with intensity…where ever that may take me.
I’m not finished with myself!
*Living with Intensity, Edited by Susan Daniels, Ph.D. and Michael M. Piechowski, Ph.D. Great Potential Press. 2009.