Resurrection / Rebirth!

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The final stage of the Hero Cycle that we are exploring with this year’s themes is that of Resurrection / Rebirth. ‘The End’ is always a New Beginning!  Whether or not you believe in reincarnation (I do), we live out our lives in epic proportions, undergoing many cycles within greater Cycles as we spiral through our life experiences to reach the heights of our aspirations and fulfillment.

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With my research into life path mapping that I have conducted over the last fifteen years, I have discovered there are three primary types of Life Course Schemas or cultural models of a lifetime that are overlapping in our cultural outlook today. I call these Linear, Cyclic, and Seamless Life Course Models. I want to describe the Linear and Cyclic Life Course Models for you here.

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Linear Models are predicated on a long held view of the life course emphasized in developmental psychology and proposed primarily by Erik Erikson in 1950 (Childhood and Society). This model postulates eight developmental stages everyone passes though as they mature. (You can read about this also in Gail Sheehy’s book Passages and in her later, updated New Passages book). Many of us have been conditioned according to this Linear-stages or step-by-step model of a lifetime, but in today’s “post-modern” reality, this Linear model really does not hold up so well for most people. Instead of ‘one education, one job or career, one relationship,’nowadays most of us find ourselves needing to be flexible and to adapt to major interruptions of our plans as we go along.

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The Cyclic Life Course Model accounts for our need to adjust to life’s changes. I have found in my interview research that people who have experienced major, early life disruptions as a child such as from their parents’ divorce tend to have developed a Cyclic Life Course model on their own. Some will say life occurs in cycles like decades, seven year cycles, twelve year cycles or some other periodic cycle. These folks also say they do not experience or worry about “mid-life crises,” because as one cycle ends and another begins, they always have the opportunity to refresh and renew!

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images are from pixabay.com

So how about you? Do you hold to more of a LINEAR model of life, with set stages of development you aim to achieve? Or do you hold a CYCLIC view of life instead, remaining flexible and open to start anew when a cycle ends for another to begin? (BTW, You might hold instead to a SEAMLESS model, believing that life just happens and you can adjust to whatever comes your way.)

I invite you to contemplate and journal about a CYCLIC approach to your life. Make a timeline of major life events to see if you discover any sort of cyclical pattern there. If so, where are you at in your current cycle? Are you ending a minor or major cycle? Starting a new one? Or are you right in the middle of one cycle, giving your all as you develop your talents and relationships?

I welcome YOUR Comments and Story!

Your Life Course Schema: Linear, Cyclic or Seamless?

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In addition to Metaphors that can shape our understanding of life and our interpretation of life events, there is an even more ‘totalizing’ way that we cognitively frame how a lifetime—including our own–is structured. Theories of the “life course” abound with frameworks that define how we construct our Life Paths.  From interviewing many people from various backgrounds, I have uncovered three overlapping (culturally co-existing) contemporary models of how our lives are structured. We can call these “life course schemas”. The three contemporary types of life course schema models are: Linear, Cyclic, and Seamless.

This week’s Life Mapping Tool (see right panel) asks you to reflect on the prompt: “WHAT, TO YOU, ARE THE TYPICAL STAGES OR PHASES, IF ANY, OF A NORMAL HUMAN LIFETIME, WHETHER OR NOT THEY ARE TYPICAL OF YOURS?”

How you answer this journaling prompt reflects how you conceptualize life in terms of a Life Course Schema. And which of these models you tend more to think in terms of can affect where you see yourself as “at” with respect to the larger picture of how you conceive of where you are Now, how you’ve come to being where you are, and where you’re headed.

{I invite you to take a few minutes now to journal your immediate response to the above prompt.}

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Does your answer have five or more “stages” (like Birth—Childhood—Teen Years—Adulthood—Late Adulthood—Elderly) or a similar set of stages? This is a LINEAR model or Life Course Schema.

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Does your answer refer to a series of repeating “cycles” or phases (like 7 year cycles, decades, or 12 year cycles, or a similar series of periodic phases)? This is a CYCLIC Life Course Schema.

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Does your answer suggest that there simply are NO typical stages or cycles that everyone goes through in similar ways (like saying life “just happens” relatively randomly, so you need to be able to adjust to the unexpected) or a similar idea? This is a SEAMLESS approach.

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For now, I invite you to journal, contemplate or talk with a loved one about how you may have come to your specific Life Course Schema model (is it from your parents? or from some other set of influences?). On Tuesday I will share some more about how each of these Schemas might influence your life, both for the positive and as a limiting construct.

I welcome your response to the prompt or any other insights. You may use the Comments button below or  send me your longer response.

Better Endings to You! Linda