Feeling the Weight of Being the Elder.

May 5, 2022

Feeling the Weight of Being the Elder.

May 29, 2023

No, this is not about your waistline. MEA is not WeightWatchers for Elders. Instead, this is about your soul-line, lineage, and legacy.

Harvard's George Vaillant is one of the best-known modern psychiatrists when it comes to adult development. Thirty years ago, he introduced a new term that hasn't gotten much attention in the mainstream (thanks to my co-author of "The Emergence of Long Life Learning," Ingo Rauth, for pointing this out to me). Vaillant says the "Keeper of the Meaning" is a stage in life—often between 60 and 75—which involves the "conservation and preservation of the collective products of mankind."

In other words, in the dusk of our life, we help amplify the importance of what’s important in life and to society, whether that might be taking care of the earth, investing in a positive family legacy, or giving back to our local community.

Wisdom is a central part of the Keeper of the Meaning stage. Where Erik Erikson's term "generativity" focuses on the care of individuals, the Keeper of the Meaning focuses on wisdom and justice from a societal perspective. It's part of the reason we see elder climate activists raising hell.

Author Alex Haley says we all have "a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage, who we are and where we came from." But, beyond that lineage, I also believe we have a deep need to share our legacy to live up to Erik Erikson's mantra, "I am what survives me." This is weighty, indeed.

P.S. I’m excited about next Tuesday’s free online event “Living and Working on Purpose” with Richard Leider and Dr. Imani Woody (May 10 from 1-2 pm PT). I know you’ve enjoyed our recent conversations with Seth Godin, Michael Franti, Arthur Brooks, Becca Levy, Janis Nakano Spivack and Aaron Taylor. Sign up HERE.

Go deeper with a workshop, in person or online.

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