The Lessons of Elders

Being unwilling to accept defeat—is a guarantee that one will never learn the lessons that must be learned if one is to mature. That is why the elders that we need so badly in our success-obsessed society are not the natural-born winners who rose to the top without a setback. Such people are easy to idealize, but they have little to teach us. What elders need to help younger people learn is that without releasing the fruits of one season, they cannot blossom into the next. Such elders can show us, because they have done it many times, how to let go of who we have been to clear the ground for the growth of who we are becoming. They can help us to understand the transition-related emotions of grief (sadness for what have let go of), disorientation (when we are lost in the neutral zone), and fear (when the challenges of the unknown new beginnings are overwhelming).

William Bridges,  The Way of Transition