One of my blog readers on the main line in Pennsylvania mentioned that she was enjoying reading Jane Fonda’s book, Prime Time. After she said that the book ”gives me a clear and directed message about balance in all areas of our lives,” I cheated and read excerpts on Amazon.com.
There’s one part of the introduction that sold me on the book. Fonda quotes social anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson:
“We have not added decades to life expectancy by simply extending old age: instead we have opened up a space partway through the life course, a second and different kind of adulthood that precedes old age.”
Fonda says that Bateson uses the identifiable metaphor of what happens when a new room is added to your home:
“It’s not just the room that is different—every other part of the house and how it is used is altered by the addition of the room.”
I really like this metaphor for the years past age 60—or what Fonda calls Act III. The concept of a new room—and all that space—gives me the freedom to think that at age 53 I don’t need to fear that next big birthday (6-0), but in fact realize that there is big open space for continued learning, work, creativity, interests, passions—and life.
Fonda likens life’s Act III to Act III in a play, which is often the most dramatic and profound. She decided that she will not “grow old, but grow into myself, and into Act III”. The Act III chapter is titled “Becoming Whole”, giving the impression that it is a time to fill in all the blanks, smooth out all the rough edges and be your best self.
When you’re thinking about what you want to do in your “retirement” years, I’d suggest going to that new room that Jane Fonda describes in her book. When you’re there, it feels like there are so many ways to furnish it–with lots of time and space.
- Think of the years past age 60 as the most profound and memorable “Act III”.
- Look forward to a second adulthood that can play out all the wisdom gained in your first adulthood.
- Furnish your “new room” with vocations and avocations that give you opportunities for continual learning and exploration.
One thought on “Go to Your Room with Jane Fonda”
This is great to have such a view of our elder years, however… I think that it supposes a lot for generations coming up. It supposes that you can retire. I know my parents can’t, and while their life expectancy is better, than say, perhaps some of the other generations before them, they are still working and barely owning property in today’s economy. (My mother owns half her house with her husband, and my father owns nothing. They both work 5 days a week, and are in their mid 60s. No retirement in sight.) I know that what I have to look forward to no matter what savings I strive to make now, is much different than what my parents were doing at my age. When they were 20 they owned homes and cars, and the economy offered them a lot. I’m in my 30s, not in debt, and with good credit, but still living pay check to pay check, with my post grad degree…. (mind you I consider myself lucky to not have student loans to pay off.) This new life expectancy is great… but it doesn’t mean the same thing for future generations when you consider that social security will not likely be around for the future generations to draw on, as statistically the babyboom generation ages, and outnumbers the current generation.
(Also, to put into perspective… my great grandmother lived to be 104, and lived an extremely fulfilling life, with a huge family and incredible health. My grandparents lived into their late 80’s with great health, running companies and being extremely active, where as their children, my parents… are in poor health…and aren’t really doing as much as their parents did. Maybe my family are the odd ones out…..)