A Seaman's Journey

Adventures of a Lifetime

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Season of Old Age

Seasons of Life

There are four major seasons of life. Each of these have fundamentally different challenges and opportunities. The season is inevitable because our lives are not static but constantly changing.

As life changes, so do all of the details that affect our daily living. Just as the weather patterns change in predictable ways, our experience will follow predictable patterns. These seasons of life must be understood in order to adapt properly to them.

Read the article entitled Seasons of Life" to get a general overview.

Winter Season - Old Age (ages 60-80)

I'm just entering my fourth quarter of life. During this season I hope to bring together the threads that have run throughout my life. I believe that this will be a time of great productivity and fulfillment.

Many people claim that their sixties were the most productive decade of their life, followed by the seventies, and then fifties. I hope that this will be the case in my life. Recently I have begun writing seriously and intend to publish several books. I feel like I understand things at a deeper level than I ever have and wish to share those insights with others.

Most of my life has been a whirlwind of activity and I have often felt unable to truly live in the experience. In this season of life I intend to slow down and savor life. The demands of others have often required me to deny the dreams that I have had for my own life. I'm hoping that now there will be time to live in the current moment.

My past life seasons have been characterized first by success and then by a sense of purpose. Both of these are focused on my personal productivity and contribution through actions. As a mid-lifer I traded the drive for success for the significance and meaning that comes from serving others.

I have run the race set before me for the first three quarters. Each season of life has prepared me for the next. During Youth I learned who I am and where I fit in the world. As an adult I built three successful careers and a lifetime of ministry. I created a loving family that continues to thrive. In mid-life I moved into activities in work and home and church to make significant contributions to the welfare of others.

Quest for Understanding

But as I cross the threshold of old age, I realize that my life is not yet finished. I am just now becoming aware of the invitation for the next leg of my journey. Every season of life is dominated by a primary quest. I believe that the Quest for Understanding lies before me. I accept the quest; I move through the doorway.

Every quest involves answering complex questions about truth and life and meaning. This quest is no different. As a young man I was satisfied with simple answers to life's most troubling questions. Bible verses and platitudes were often enough to scratch the itch. As an old man I still believe in these simple but often see them a too shallow to steer the decisions in my life. The world is a complex place that requires an sophisticated understanding.

One question is core to my quest. It organizes all of the other questions that drive me to a deeper understanding.

Today I have a far deep thirst for enlightenment than I have ever had before. In previous seasons, my areas of interest were mostly limited to things that could benefit my career. Information that could not be used immediately was deemed to be a luxury. Now I have time and energy to think about things at a much deeper level.

Challenges

As adults age, the life they live is a direct continuation of the life that they have already been living. Those people that have lived a life focused on others, are now well positioned to reap the benefits of those investments. The opposite is often true. Those that have lived selfishly, find themselves isolated and struggle with feelings of alienation and abandonment.

Old age is a time of reckoning for many. Failure to grow emotionally has left many people unable to grieve or forgive and the desire to control others has soured many of their relationships.

But for those that have worked diligently to learn to love, old age can be a rich time of true connection with both family and friends. Oddly enough, emotional and social maturity seems to be directly correlated to life satisfaction at this time. It lies at the heart of meaningful relationships.

Another major challenge faced by the elderly, is the struggle to be relevant in today's culture. Technology continues to evolve quickly and seniors are often unable to track the changes. Older people struggle with doing basic skills required by modern life. Because cultural trends are established by young adults the elderly find themselves increasingly alienated and alarmed by the culture itself.

Extremists views from the news media and social media leave many seniors in a deep state of fear and confusion. From their perspective, the sky really is falling and the world is coming to an end. All of these factors converge to make this season of life quite miserable for many.

There are answers to these challenges and for some seniors this is the best season of life. But concerted effort is required to prevent the natural spiral into despair. The people that truly live during the Golden Years are those that love others and seek to live the fullest life that is possible, given their constraints. They work hard to maintain a positive attitude and meaningful loving relationships.

As I enter the fourth quarter, I am committed to pursue this path to the best of my abilities. Many of the specific challenges that I will face are unknown at this time. But many of the challenges can be easily anticipated. I am resolved to age gracefully and I have closely studied those who have successfully navigated through this season. I am ready to accept the Quest for Understanding.

Quest Goals

All quests start with a goal in mind. Sometimes this goal is crystal clear, but often it is more of a direction than a destination. This quest involves a deep understanding of the meaning of life. In particular, I need to understand my life in such a way that I can fully experience the joy of living. This is what it means to me to finish well.

I want to run my race and feel the joy of running it well. My life has four major arenas. To run my race I must end well in each area, based on the limitations I have.

These are not new goals. But this transition is highlighting how critical they are to the fulfillment of my overall life goals during this season. Underpinning all of this is a desire to handle loss gracefully and live generously. Without emotional growth and maturity none of these other goals are possible. It is time to deal with unresolved issues from past hurts.