Don’t Let Your Adulthood Turn Stale


Years ago, my husband and I read a book  called A Choice of Heroes, by Mark Gerzon. Recently, Gerzon came to my attention again, completely serendipitously, when I found a quote about how he had unknowingly accepted “our culture’s stale and simplistic view of adulthood — that the person you are at midlife is the person you will always be.” He continues:

But I was wrong.

We have many words to describe less than twenty years of the life cycle: newborn, infant, toddler, preschooler, child, teenager, adolescent, and so forth. We need all of these words because children grow so fast. But to describe the next half-century — the period of fifty years or more after we reach the age of twenty — have only one generally accepted word: adulthood. The poverty of our language reveals that we still do not understand that “grown-ups” grow too. We act as if adulthood is one long, stable, predictable period. We act as if we have signed a protracted, long-term contract, like paying off a mortgage.

Luckily for him, and us, he found new purpose:

At precisely the time when I thought my development was coming to an end, I found myself embarking on a totally unexpected journey of growth and change. I entered what the great Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung called the “second half of life”.

You can read the rest of this very informative and thought provoking post at What I want to emphasize here, on my post, is how true it is that adulthood is not one continuous sidewalk of sameness, going downhill, but a fascinating journey encompassing many different aspects of ourselves.

Take my adulthood, for instance. I spent the first decade raising two children (I had my first at age 19). I also took a course in dress design, taught a sewing course, taught piano lessons, and made art whenever possible. Then I went to University, received a B.A. in English, and started various jobs, culminating in being employed by a number of public libraries. I went back to school and received a B.Ed., then an M.L.I.S. (Masters of Information and Library Science). I thought I might as well become a library manager, rather than be managed, but was fortunate enough to land a position as a teacher-librarian in a public school. As I look towards imminent retirement, I am embarking on a whole new career, into which I have made a number of forays. I will be teaching art workshops, making as much art as I can, writing more magazine articles, getting better at photography, etcetera, etcetera.

I have left out much: the many things I attempted, the books I read, the art processes I experimented with, the extra courses I took, the trips I went on. Every last thing contributed to my growth and development. Who I am is constantly ongoing. I am curious, motivated, and in love with life.

Do I have a stale and simplistic view of adulthood? Absolutely not!

Constantly Reaching


About CarolWiebe

Art entices, inspires, and delights me. Art is a vehicle for laughter, tears, wonder, enlightenment--taking me on a constant path of discovery. You can't say that about housework (except, perhaps, for the crying part).
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8 Responses to Don’t Let Your Adulthood Turn Stale

  1. motleydragon says:

    Thank you, Carol, for continuing to write such interesting posts. It is always a welcome surprise when one bounces in to my inbox. Our career paths are similar… the goal for my gifted classes was always to teach not what to learn, but how to learn, and to explore why being an independent lifelong scholar is so important.

    • Carol Wiebe says:

      Ellen, I just flow with whatever comes up. It’s been quite a ride on this blog so far, and I thank you for your encouragement. I also absolutely agree with you as far as the way you approach teaching. FUN is important, too. For me, learning is fun.

  2. Edgar Degas, with whom I share a birthday, was said to have been terribly depressed at 50–believing his artistic power was now on a steep downhill turn. The possibly apocryphal response from Monet to “just get on with it” led to a hugely rich period of artistic work. I celebrated not turning, but being 50–and have thoroughly enjoyed each year since.

  3. Carol Boyer says:

    You are truly ALIVE….. so of course you are changing and growing in all sorts of new directions at the same time. Now we are high enough on the age mountain to see more of the landscape and it is calling to us to explore! Lets get going!
    Keep creating
    On another note- Thanks for the positive feed on my blog work. You are an inspiration to all of us!

    • Carol Wiebe says:

      We are so very lucky, Carol, to be doing something we LOVE. That imparts an aliveness to our being that helps to support all the changing and growing.

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