For this winter’s issue of Culturework, we turn our curiosity toward aging.
Tell us about your experiences of growing older. Share your perspective on witnessing age in your community and with loved ones. Consider how identity is maintained or transmuted throughout the course of life. Help us envision ways to honor the contributions of our elders.
Mainstream US culture is an example of how capitalist values can render young people voiceless and categorize elders as obsolete. This perspective is nuanced and varies within our families, homes, friends, and customs. Consider your place and perspective while sharing your insights. We look forward to receiving your work.
We accept all mediums that are fit for online content and viewing, including original images, visuals, essays, poetry, fiction or nonfiction, music, videos, audio, etc. Please note that we will work with you to edit and review written content. To learn more about our editors visit our about page.
Send us your work by January 15, 2020 at firstname.lastname@example.org
Like any change, aging is often scary and braided through with loss, even as it brings knowledge, experience, and even renewal along with it. How fully we are able to experience the positives of the aging process depends on what culture recognizes and provides to support us through it. Rites of passage, celebration, and social recognition of these experiences of transition carve out the space to make them meaningful. The ways we treat elders cast a shadow that stretches backwards, coloring our ways of thinking about earlier stages of life and aging in general. What it means to be an old person shapes what it means to be a young person, or someone in midlife.
My journey as a social worker has often required me to confront, as best I can, the reality of my own time and place, and how certain discourses of capitalist competition and rugged individualism can overemphasize the years of our lives when we’re most capable of producing and least susceptible to physical vulnerability.
Ultimately, we have different things to contribute at each stage of life, but we never have nothing to contribute. Youth can facilitate innovation and experimentation, while experience contributes knowledge and an awareness of life’s rhythms. Our youngest and oldest make it possible for others to experience the deep pleasure of care-giving. These are reflections that I am constantly revisiting as I consider my own age, my family, and the perspectives I have encountered on my travels.
What would it take to build cultures where each season of life is valued? What would we have to sacrifice to make it happen? How can we create change in our own lives? We hope that, as we come into a new decade, this issue helps us explore ways of thinking about aging that honor the reality of our interdependence and defy limiting expectations of how life’s stages should or should not be.
Rebecca Bacon Ehlers
Founder & Editor