By Mary Catherine Bateson

Composing a different existence Bateson sees getting older this present day as an "improvisational artwork shape calling for mind's eye and willingness to learn," and during this ardent, declaring examine, she relates the studies of fellows and women--herself included--who, upon getting into this moment maturity, have discovered new which means and new how one can give a contribution, composing their lives in new styles. complete description

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A farmer responds to the characteristics of different fields, and the captain of a ship to the shifting winds. But above all, work is the place where most of us encounter a variety of people, both as fellow employees and, if we are lucky, as those who will use the products of our labor in their lives, cooks selecting lettuces at a farmers’ market, students in a classroom, home owners rejoicing in a remodeled basement. I first met Hank and Jane Lawson when my husband and I were in Brooklin, Maine, visiting Richard Goldsby and his wife, Barbara Osborne, at the vacation house they rented for several summers next door to the Lawsons, who were also seasonal residents by then.

My hope is that this book will challenge individuals not only to thoughtful discernment and creativity in composing a further life but to greater engagement. We need the members of the grandparent generation—those in Adulthood II—to restore a dimension of long-term thinking to our decision making. For the great irony of our time is that, even as we are living longer, we are thinking shorter. We live in a society where working adults are experiencing ever-increasing stress and striving. Members of the parent generation are straining to meet next week’s and next month’s deadlines, quarterly reports, and a fast-recurring election cycle.

From very simple organisms up through mammals, learning very slowly became a key to survival; most organisms are hatched or born equipped with the specialized behaviors they need to survive in their environments, or can acquire them in a matter of days or weeks, without an extended period of dependency. Human development, by comparison, is exceptionally labor intensive, requiring the attention of multiple adults over long periods of time. Even in comparison to other mammals, human infants and children are helpless in a way that is conspicuous and seems terribly inefficient.

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