serene ambition™

transforming the culture of aging


Posted by Jim Selman on 09/22/06

I guess everything starts somewhere. This is my first ‘blog’. I’m still getting used to the local jargon in these here parts. I see the ‘blogosphere’ as the perfect place to share my ideas about age and aging.

Actually, this isn’t the beginning of my interest in and commitment to do something about the culture of aging that we all share. It has been a kind of hobby of mine for a long time. And now, as I approach 65, it has become more of a mission.

I am clear that, in North America and Europe at least, we age INTO a condition or culture that dictates what age is and what it means. This is an enormous ‘conversation’ about ‘who we are’ and what is and isn’t possible as we age. Moreover, at the core of this collective worldview about age is the notion that aging is a process of decline, of not feeling valued and of multiple losses—loss of health, happiness, identity and self-expression, loss of love and relationships, and, in the end, loss of life itself. With the exception of a few ‘stars’ (exceptions who prove the rule), no one lives into a possibility that all of these areas of life in which loss is expected and prepared for could actually increase and expand as we age.

From the time we are infants until our death, we are imprinted with images of what the future holds for us as we grow older. We ‘learn’ about age from our grandparents, the media and general observations of ‘old people’. It is even difficult to find a positive image in children’s stories—fairy tales are filled with youthful characters, almost everyone is younger than Snow White, and the witches are mostly ‘old crones’. When we do encounter pictures of older folks that aren’t negative, they are usually of grandparents sitting by the fire in a rocking chair or taking a cruise, comfortably passing their last years in relaxation and leisure while occasionally sharing tidbits of wisdom with the ‘young-uns’.

Today, as the Baby Boomers enter into their ‘golden years’, we have an opportunity to reinvent all of the negative stereotypes of people as they grow older and in the process transform the paradigm of age itself. The problem, however, is that, in spite of our positive intentions to live longer, healthier and happier lives, we’re still operating in a context of ‘anti-aging’—trying to hold onto our youthful lifestyles longer yet still unable to embrace growing older as a positive (even desirable) state of existence.

The paradox of age is that we are always and only however old we are—it is just a biological fact. Everything else is an interpretation. There are no ‘truths’ about age: only generally accepted assessments and a kind of collective agreement about what is and isn’t possible at various ages. The young person who “can’t do something because they are too young” is in the same “box” as the person who stops participating “because they are too old”.

It is true that, as our bodies change over time, our interests and opportunities also change. Yet, we need only look for one or two examples of people who are bucking the tide and living ‘full out’ to understand that age has nothing to do with what is or is not possible. The only things that ever limit us are our choices and actions. If our past, our life experience and our expectations dictate what we are willing to commit to and take on in our lives, then we will always be choosing variations of where we have been and what we have done. Our future will predictably be “more of the same”. But if we choose and move into action based on our vision and commitments, then the second half of life is about creating our future. And instead of being victims of our changing biology and the “changing times”, we can relate to all changes as simply the circumstances of life that we use to accomplish our dreams.

Every breakthrough and every cultural transformation in history began when an individual or a small group of people created and committed themselves to something being possible—without there being any evidence that it was.

What if we could transform our culture of aging from one of decline, resignation and, at best, coping comfortably with circumstances to a culture of power, creative contribution, love, being valued, happiness, vibrant health and full self-expression? What if we had as much possibility on the last day of our life as we had on the first?

I believe we can. So I’m beginning today and inviting you to join me. Together, let’s create the possibility of transforming the culture of aging.

© 2006 Jim Selman. All rights reserved.


3 Responses to “Beginning”

  1. Jim , congratulations for your blog and first presentation !!
    This is great .. i m so so glad to read all and for you to have started!.. Anxious to receive more .. Love, Annie

  2. Jim, welcome to the world of blogging and to the underappreciated and underrepresented blogosphere on aging topics. Thanks for linking to my blog. Looking forward to more commentary!

  3. Monica Leguizamon said

    Dear Jim,

    It’s always and all ways nice and lovely, meaningful and magic to read you.

    Let’s continue with our holy connection!

    Thanks for your generosity!!


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