Actively Aging

Actively Aging

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Stages of Living

That greatest of all playwrights William Shakespeare wrote in As You Like It:

ALL the world ’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His Acts being seven ages. At first the Infant,        5
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining School-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the Lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woful ballad        10
Made to his mistress’ eyebrow. Then a Soldier,
Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard;
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the Justice,        15
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances,—
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slippered Pantaloon,        20
With spectacles on nose, and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,        25
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness, and mere oblivion,—
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.


In the 20th Century, while those sub-stages still existed, most people in the Western world recognized a 3-stage, fixed existence. These were:
  1. education
  2. work and family
  3. retirement
Bu as the 21st Century arrived, with men and women both living much longer than ever before in history, experts began to realize the need to rewrite the social script that had worked during the Industrial Age.

Most observed that the outdated, 3-stage, chronological life course model had two major flaws.

First, it had created a highly age-segregated society, in which each phase of life was associated with a particular task. The young study, the middle-aged work, and the old rest or volunteer. Not only did that mean that generations had little interaction with one another fostering misunderstanding and unease, but it was difficult for anyone of any age to find a holistic balance between family, work, community, and educational opportunities.

Secondly, this old life script had way to much action in the first 2 stages and not nearly enough in the 3rd stage.

In Senior Moments, we'll be exploring several new alternatives to our life cycle that will better capture the realities of contemporary society.

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