Am I the only one who felt like I was just marking time today? Maybe it was triggered by a couple of patients. It could just be my general contemplation about where my life is headed. Seems like a lot of the people I’m working with these days are questioning whether they spent their lives well. I find myself thinking about Erickson’s notion that “generativity versus despair” is one of the stages of development that everyone must face at some point in their life.
I mentioned before how my wife and I were considering how we could change things in our lives. One possibility stood out as we read more about the lives of people who have moved overseas. It seems like everybody participates in some sort of volunteer activity. I’m sure they feel like they are making a difference or contributing. Supposedly they made the move to retire, but instead they usually find themselves busier than ever.
So I find myself wondering. Grinding away every day, keeping my pace in the rat race leaves me bored and fatigued. It doesn’t do much for my mood either. Right now, my path is leading more to the “despair” side of Erickson’s challenge. I think to myself: If I didn’t have the demands of daily work obligations, then I would have the time and mental energy to volunteer. Then I could pursue an assortment of activities that would be personally rewarding. But that doesn’t fit with what we are trying to do here, does it? I need to reframe the question. How can I find a way to engage in those activities during my life as it is now?
Rather than waiting for it to be more convenient, maybe I should create time now. After all, I am in the process of restructuring my life, right? Certainly that should include taking time to pursue my interests and passions. When I think about the people who live life that way, I am always impressed by their energy and enthusiasm. Maybe our approach has been backwards. If we put our time into giving back, or pursuing “hobbies,” it’s doesn’t further drain your energy – it recharges you. Maybe the first step in redesigning your life is to re-energize. Will you make the time to volunteer, to give back?
I’m sure Erickson would be proud.