GENERATIVITY

RIDING THE “AGE WAVE”

In 1950, psychologist Erik Erikson  introduced his theory of psychological development, describing the challenges humans being face during 8 distinct stages in our lifetimes from infancy to old age. Each stage presents us with a specific crisis which we must engage if we are to move forward in a psychologically healthy way. In defining the 7th stage of life, the one before old age, Erikson identified the central conflict as a struggle between stagnation and generativity. Coining the term “generativity,” Erikson expressed the need we humans have for meaning in our lives, a desire to connect to the generations before and after us and the urge to leave a legacy.

Today, we are in the midst of a demographic “Age Wave” which is having a profound impact on our culture at large and on our individual lives. Baby boomers are staying healthy longer while remaining active and engaged in all aspects of life right through our fifties, sixties and seventies. This in turn is lengthening the 7th stage of life, where we must continue to fight stagnation through generativity.

This is an especially challenging but exciting time for women. Freed from our childrearing roles, retired from jobs or careers, we are creating new ways to avoid stagnation and to open exciting possibilities in our lives and the lives of other women. In the words of poet Adrienne Rich, “We must use what we have to invent what desire.”

I created this website to explore what generativity can look like not only in my life but in the lives of other creative older women.