by Michael Meade
A man can get caught between an outer life whose meaning is draining away and an inner life dominated by lions enraged from lack of nourishment. After a while, stuckness becomes numbing.—one of the most fearful states men experience. Turning numb happens in all kinds of ways and has become so common that it’s considered part of aging. Certainly, it is one of our fears about aging. Whatever the primary emotional style of a man may be, numbing can occur. His anger may turn cold and form a hard shell that blocks his inner and outer life. Even a warm heart may become stone cold and kill intimacy of any kind. Fear may become petrified, keeping people at a distance and blocking change within. Shame may build to a point where any close attention will shut everything down; it can stop a man from doing something before he even gets started. Sorrow may begin to feel like a weight that can’t be moved, and a wasteland can grow out of the numbness.
In the present culture, because of the dearth of role model, honored and respected Elders in our lives and the dearth of men who see Elderhood as anything but a depressing vision of life of debilitation in a nursing home, we often get stuck at the crossroads where a decision is called for. I have met many men who appear confused about what to do with their lives as they age and their careers are ending. Life as a Vibrant Emeritus can be as active, challenging, growthful and exciting as life as Warrior. It is life on a different frequency and it is emitting energy out to others from one’s deepest core. I have met men whose confusion comes from their attempt to continue to do what they have always done to stoke and stroke their inner dynamism and it is no longer working. I talked with others who have lost their purpose.
Life as a Vibrant Emeritus offers the discovery of new challenges that can be met in ways that demand creativity, movement into what is unknown, “going we know not where to fetch we know not what.” Men taking this route today are pioneers and early adapters, forging the path others will want to follow. We will become the role models, supporters and inspires for the next generations, mentoring them through their Warrior Journey, and lowering the obstacles to their entering the last half or third of their lives with passion, enthusiasm and joy.
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