“I said ‘I guess I’m a modern elder.’ It meant someone as curious as they are wise.”From Wisdom@Work:The Making of a Modern Elder by Chip Conley, Influencer on Aging.
This past week got me thinking about life events. It was a BIG one. My son, Anders was married to Kacie last Friday. Family weddings are a sweet reminder of all the love in our lives, those who surround us on that day to celebrate and the couple themselves. We sat with dear friends who share our history–the couple who lived across the alley from us when we were newlyweds and now are “grandfriends.” My maid of honor who I met our freshman year at Gustavus, and our Chicago friends who made the drive to be with us, brought sweet memories of our babies who in a flash are now married. We pick up the stitches where we left off. And the pattern we have made is rich, the colors and textures vibrant. And we aren’t done yet. We are weaving together something new–our own versions of what might come next in retirement.
The other thing I did last week was to take a pre-retirement assessment survey. I looked over the results with my colleague Annette, an executive coach, who chose me as a test case for her practice. The tool assesses where you are in your perceptions of the various factors influencing decisions around retirement. And how your behaviors match or stray from those perceptions. The categories are things like directedness, life meaning, leisure interests and adaptability.
I was energized after going over the results and felt the importance of my personal inventory for making future plans. Many of these topics the source of deep conversations we are having with our spouse and friends. A re-envisioning of our lives for the next stage. When I saw a post on “modern elders” in Next Avenue a blog I follow, I met Chip Conley who coined the term. He has opened the Modern Elder Academy and published a book about a “midlife wisdom school.” Wisdom at Work:The Making of a Modern Elder. I haven’t read the book yet, but I like the concept. He helps people learn how to spread their wisdom and prepare for this new time of our lives. Sign me up!
Am I a “modern elder”?
Since I claim to be making my way as a modern matriarch, I want to probe what this is, and find out what others are thinking too. For sure I am not as hip as Chip, but I like the idea of inter-generational collaboration in our families, in the workplace and in our communities. And I am all for influencing how others see us as elders. Let’s show curiosity, vibrancy, wisdom and action in how we live out our lives. And create a legacy that reflects it.
We can all agree there are many choices before us as “modern elders” and it is scary. Taking that survey helped me see there is freedom in not knowing and to make room for big dreams and imaging what the next adventure could be. We have the rest of our lives to explore.