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  • T.W. Emory

Two major peaks of life satisfaction

In my novel, Trouble in Rooster Paradise, a former detective tells a youthful caregiver about one of his cases in Seattle, back in 1950. This framing device was partly inspired by my own firsthand youthful acquaintance with several story-telling old people. As a teenager I associated stories of the past with the aged—in particular, with my maternal grandparents.

I’ve read that there seems to be ‘two major peaks of life satisfaction’: one in your early 20s and the other in old age; and that with growing older our satisfaction apparently shifts to small everyday pleasures, and to an acceptance of what we can’t change and of who we are. This progression is probably a difficult thing for a 20-something to fully fathom, but is likely a more fathomable and even palatable notion to a person well into middle age. So, aging continues to (or should continue to) include a forward-looking attitude. But since it’s said that 80% of life’s “defining moments” occur by age 35—or in other words, that life’s major events are concentrated in adolescence and early adulthood—then it’s understandable that as we age, we tend (as an “oldster”) to look to our past far more than we did when we were young.

Doubtless, this is why it’s said that aging brings more memories and less dreams, as in aspirations, ambitions, and goals. This has also given me a hindsight-insight (that’s come with age) into my story-telling grandparents. They died when I was in my mid- to late-teens. I generally enjoyed their stories from their younger days. But now I think I actually better understand their motivations for telling them.

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