Journal February 5, 2001

What is it like for me to be 88ish?

A recent advertisement in the Washington Post announces the establishment of a Leadership Institute for local School Principals. It defines the purpose as offering a broad perspective on leadership with special emphasis on the "exploration of one's sense of being".

I liked that final phrase. It expresses clearly what I am trying to accomplish in these mental meanderings: "the exploration of my sense of being".


I have been reading a book by a Douglas Powell entitled "The Nine Myths Of Aging". Powell is the Director of Research in Behavioral Science at Harvard University. He defines the purpose of his book as an attempt to identify and articulate some truths about aging, and to offer specific suggestions to younger adu;lts [in their 40s and 50s?] about maximizing the likelihood of optimal aging in their later years.

Most of Powell's book summarizes conclusions from cognitive ability tests of selected groups of citizens, both young and elderly. There was no evidence of any attempt to examine or record any introspective self-analysis by individuals.

Powell admits that the population he knows best is an advantaged, upper-class, well educated group which may not be representative of the more general population. He vaguely defines his own age as being in the "seventh decade", which probably means the early 60s. Alas, he does not include any self-analysis which would summarize what it is like, for him, to be living in his current NOW. He has only included occasional anecdotal comments about some of his behavior habits as examples of attitudes which might be related to the aging process, but which could be changed or even avoided altogether.

Toward the end of his book, Powell suggests a "Life Review" as a strategy for lifting spirits out of personal depression. He defines such a review as an observation of the "statue of ourselves that is revealed as the years fall away". In his own case Powell comments that he has been comforted by observing that he is part of the generational process. As a result, he implies that now, advanced in life, he is better able to recognize and accept that he has accumulated personal traits, particular habits, and specific vulnerabilities. He suggests tha it would be useful for everyone to look at their own accumulated inventories. The purpose would be to identify useful positive patterns which could be emphasized and maintained to produce well-being, even in the face of inevitable deterioration from the aging process.


It is also that current "statue of myself" that I have been contemplating, and attempting to describe, as I write about "what it is like for me to be 88ish".


Adjacent entries.

Journal January 23, 2001:
Journal February 19, 2001: