by Mark Salter
I was an original thinker when I was young. So were my peers. We knew the world was changing after generations of stasis, changing because we had arrived, children of the ’60s and ’70s, with our new affinities and attitudes. We were certain in our convictions, and never more so than in our conviction that our parents were foolish to be certain in theirs.
Our parents saw the world in black and white, their certitude built on unexamined values inherited from their parents. We saw the bright new hues of a culture changed by our individuality, our benign tolerance, our eagerness for new experiences. We knew happiness eluded those who sought it in conformity to the past. Self-actualization, which our narrow-minded elders mistook for selfishness, was the only means to happy, fulfilled lives.
It’s been a rude surprise, now that I have reached middle age (OK, late middle age), to experience my powers of perception, my comprehension of complexity, decline so noticeably. I lack certainty about all sorts of things these days, and that deficiency has induced something like desperation, a feeling that has me clutching for values that would be familiar to my parents.
How did that happen? I assume I’m fully self-actualized now. I’m almost 60. How long does the process take? Shouldn’t the wisdom I possessed at the beginning of my journey of self-discovery have increased now that its end is in sight? Shouldn’t I have reached the summit of my personal Olympus by now? Read More