I am 70 years old, retired, and curious about this new decade I am embarking upon. For most of our lives, it seems we are very busy producing results, accomplishing goals, getting educated, raising children, and moving ahead in our careers. About five years ago, I began to notice that my energy wasn’t focused on getting ahead in my professional life anymore.
I found myself enjoying alone time, cultivating meditation practices, and working on my new home after I moved back to Tucson after 40 years in California. I also met a wonderful man during this time period and we have been creating an exciting life together. We maintain our own homes, split all expenses 50-50, and have figured out a workable schedule that allows us together and apart time each week. Now that the COVID reality has somewhat subsided, we have returned to traveling again. We are aware of our ages and while we are both healthy and physically strong now, we know that a time will come when the trips we are currently enjoying may not be as easy to do.
I find myself wondering about what it means to be present in my life, with the notion of BEING at the core of my inquiry. After close to 50 years of my life being dedicated to accomplishing and achieving, I am somewhat mystified by the fact that I can declare that I made it in my life. So now what? How do I accomplish and achieve success with “being” like I did with “doing”?
In psychologist Erik Erickson’s model of adult development, the telos of the life stage 65+ is focused on integrity vs despair. We are ascertaining whether we have accomplished what we set out to do, in other words, are we in integrity with life. To be in despair about the choices we have made in our lives at this stage is not a healthy place to be. We no longer have the psychological, mental and physical stamina to produce the results to which we have aspired. It is a shock to realize we are in despair – no longer able to achieve the dreams we had for our lives.
To put this in context, if you were to die today, could you say that you are satisfied with what you set out to accomplish in this lifetime? If your answer is Yes, then you could declare that you are in integrity with yourself and life.