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Monday, November 30, 2009

Sense of Place

"As we move into the second half of life, we inevitably confront the question "Where in the world do I belong?" Changes in relationships, work, and physical health naturally precipitate the need to reconsider our sense of place. And this means both our external place--where we live--as well as a more internal sense---where and to whom do I really belong. Fortunately, the second half can provide us with a unique opportunity for renewal; we cannot avoid the freedom to choose whether we stay, grow, or die." Richard Leider and David Shapiro; Claiming Your Place At the Fire

I am intrigued by the question that Leider and Shapiro pose above: "Where in the world do I belong?" In my retirement coaching practice I notice that this is usually the question that stymies and confuses many clients. Especially the implied second part "To whom do I belong?" Finding and creating a network of people who support our life and our continued personal, spiritual and psychological development is just as important as finding the correct address.

However, if it were just a matter of finding a specific place, our task would be easy. We might choose a place that is warm or near our favorite recreational opportunities or close to family. We might choose a place close to a major airport so we can easily travel or live in a city for the urban amenities. But "home" is more than the physical place. And as Leider/Shapiro say, the warm climate that we feel on the outside might just be masking a coldness inside.

A real sense of "home" involves more than just physical comfort. Having a sense that we matter in other people's lives and that we can be seen and supported for who we really are plays a bigger role in knowing where in the world we belong. Are there opportunities to be in-service to others and to do my inner exploration? Do I have people in my life who support me just as I am for who I am? Are there plenty of opportunities and resources to develop a new calling?

If you like, as someone interested in aging intentionally, sit down with your loved ones or friends and inquire about what is it about your sense of place that would make you feel most supported or at home? This is a great jumping off point for answering "Where in the world do I belong?"


Tash Niro said...

Another book that may be of interest is Elderburbia: Aging with a Sense of Place in America by Philip B. Stafford (2009). Stafford "argues that aging is not just about time and the body, but about place and relationships." Elderburbia focuses on the Baby Boomer cohort that is aging in place in the suburbs. I've only read the preface but am excited to dive in to the book as this topic fascinates me.

~ Tash

David Rozell said...

Tash, thank you for the book suggestion. I am always looking for new reading material on this subject. Please offer any and all suggestions.