Harry R. Moody
Thursday, July 22, 10 am Pacific, 11 am Mt Noon Central, 1 pm EST, 2 pm Atlantic, 7 pm Zurich, 8 pm Istanbul
Boomers Ayond: Networking from the Inside Out To Find Meaningful Work and a Meaningful Life
As the boomers surge into later life, we are interested in continually learning about and contributing more to this stage of life, both for ourselves and our clients. As Director of Academic Affairs for AARP, Harry Moody probably knows more than anyone how to explore the aging field. He will discuss both established and cutting edge organizations that are contributing to this field and address strategies for meeting the needs of specific populations in the aging field (i.e., older women, caregivers). In addition, he will share his work on dream interpretation in later life to explore how we might contribute to this field.
Harry R. Moody is currently Director of Academic Affairs for AARP. He is the author of over 100 scholarly articles and book chapters, as well as a number of books including: Abundance of Life: Human Development Policies for an Aging Society (Columbia University Press, 1988); Ethics in an Aging Society (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992); and Aging: Concepts and Controversies, a gerontology textbook now in its 3rd edition. His most recent book, The Five Stages of the Soul, was published by Doubleday Anchor Books (1997) and has been translated into seven languages worldwide.
A graduate of Yale (1967) and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University (1973), Dr. Moody taught philosophy at Columbia, Hunter College, New York University, and the University of California at Santa Cruz. From 1999 to 2001 he served as National Program Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Faith in Action. From 1992 to 1999, he was Executive Director of the Brookdale Center at Hunter College. Before coming to Hunter, he served as Administrator of Continuing Education Programs for the Citicorp Foundation and later as Co-Director of the National Aging Policy Center of the National Council on Aging in Washington, DC.
Harry Moody is known nationally for his work in older adult education. He recently stepped down as Chairman of the Board of Elderhostel. He has also been active in the field of biomedical ethics and serves as an Adjunct Associate of the Hastings Center.
Web Address: www.hrmoody.com
Activity: Read passages from Dreams for the Second Half of Life.
Questions to Think About as You Read Dreams Below
- When you review a dream, ask yourself "If this were my dream..." as you try to understand its meaning.
- What are the key images and symbols in each dream?
- What is the major "feeling tone" in each dream?
- What is the "message" that each dream is trying to convey to the dreamer?
- How could the dreamer use the message as a way of self-understanding or finding guidance for the next phase of life?
From Dreams for the Second Half of Life
The following are dreams of midlife transition. What do they tell us about unresolved issues for these dreamers?
The following is the dream of a forty-three-year old successful businessman who became depressed in midlife:
My car wouldn't steer and I tried to go through an old brick tunnel over a road and got stuck against the edge because of no steering. Also I couldn't see ahead as I was on top of the hill.
The following is the dream of a forty-two-year old man in the midst of mid-life questioning:
I dreamed that the construction of a freeway in a suburb [of the city] is nearing completion. There is a vast expanse of asphalt but no median strips, painted arrows or traffic lights.
BACK IN SCHOOL
Here is the dream of middle-aged CEO facing a new challenge:
I am back in school, learning a foreign language. I am told that if I graduate, I will be given a higher degree in philosophy. The work is hard, but a teaching assistant gives me private coaching. He takes me to a place in the deep woods. He tells me I'll find it easier to study there.
A dream of Sheila Moon at age 36:
SECOND ACT OF THE PLAY
I am suddenly in a play. I haven’t rehearsed for it, but it seems as if I knew the lines because I had seen the play before. I have no costume and have to wear my own clothes. I get through the first act all right, although feeling uncertain and making up lines sometimes. Then, while scenes are being changed, I realize I don’t know what comes next at all. A woman director, rather stern, says I’m doing fairly well but should do better. Then I try to find a copy of my part, but cannot.
Another dream from Sheila Moon:
A SECOND SET OF ME
I saw on a shelf a second set of me—my skin, complete from head to foot. It was lying with its back toward me. I touched it, very hesitatingly and rather repelled. My finger sunk into it. It felt dead, and yet not quite. I thought, ‘Well, I guess you could get into it, although it would be hard, but there might be times you’d want to wear it.’
Here is the dream of a woman at midlife who hears the cry of a baby:
THE OTHER NURSERY
A forty-year old woman dreamed that she heard her baby crying in the nursery. Being very attentive to this beautiful child she ran to the nursery to comfort it, but when she looked into the crib the baby was comfortably sleeping. However, the crying continued. At this moment, the woman discovered a door in the nursery she had never noticed before. When she opened it, she discovered to her surprise another nursery with an identical crib and a child in it. This child was hungry, weak, emaciated. How could she have forgotten she had this other child, she wondered?
Here is the dream of a forty-year-old woman named Marie, who felt herself to be at a point of midlife transition:
THE GOLDEN MASK
Marie dreamed that she had given birth to twins. Though one of the infants was well-loved and healthy, the other had been forgotten. Not only was the forgotten child hungry and angry but its head had also, somehow, become completely encased in a seamless golden metal mask.
ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL HOUSE
I had another beautiful house as well as the one in which I normally lived and I wondered whether it was right to have one which I used so little and whether the rent was paid.
Dreams about Aging
Each of us has an unconscious image of our own aging might be, and these images are
often expressed in our dreams. Here are some examples.
The following dream is of the 45-year old Brugh Joy:
EMBRACING THE ELDER
I am facing a deep, dark pool of water. Slowly, from its depths, rises the body of a man. At first, he is floating face-down and seems to be dead. He then becomes animated and I see that he is actually a healthy older man in his seventies or eighties. He stands on the water's surface, smiles, and embraces me as I smile and embrace him.
Here is a dream of the noted psychologist Robert Johnson, at age 83:
I drive to San Francisco in my old Volkswagen Beetle. I park it. Then I forget where I have parked it and, though, I can’t find my car, I have to go home again. I walk till I am exhausted. I’m feeling desperate, then I find my wallet is gone; I remember a friend in San Francisco had a wallet stolen, and he ended up at a Bank of America branch, which is also my bank. He had no identification or money, not even change to phone someone for assistance. He got help when they phoned back his branch and verified that he had an account and then gave him a couple of hundred dollars, which pleased me greatly in my dream. So in the dream I thought, ‘If can jut find a Bank of America, they will bail me out from this difficulty.’ I begin walking again. I cannot find a branch of Bank of America (though, in outer reality, there are many in San Francisco). Finally I am completely stuck, and from that stuck or zero point I suddenly realize the basic life principle that I am exactly where I belong, that I don’t really need anything, not a car, not the Bank of America. I realize this with great relief and joy.
The dreamer is Lisa Van Susteren, 52, a psychiatrist:
[In her dream, the dreamer] is coming up through the water from the bottom of a river. The water is clear. But on her body are leaves and mud. Clear water, encrusted body.
The following is a dream of a 75-year old woman, a teacher whose life in old age displayed joy and productivity. Then she had the following dream:
NO BED, ONLY STANDING ROOM
A young student of mine has won a contest with the finals to be held in Chicago. She asks that I make her reservations. I call and do so. I am told they will have no bed, only standing room. I try to call again, but the alarm wakes me up.
The following dream was told to Carl Jung by an old soldier traveling in a train compartment with Jung, who was a complete stranger to him:
THE OLD GENERAL
I was on parade with a number of young officers, and our commander-in-chief was inspecting us. Eventually he came to me, but instead of asking a technical question he demanded a definition of the beautiful. I tried in vain to find a satisfactory answer, and felt most dreadfully ashamed when he passed on to the next man, a very young major, and asked him the same question. This fellow came out with a damned good answer, just the one I would have given if only I could have found it. This gave me such a shock that I woke up.
HALFWAY UP THE MOUNTAIN
The dreamer, in his seventies, is a self-made man, who is described by his therapist as one who "for all his achievements...remained haunted by the sense of deficit:"
I am at the Harvard Club for a meal. Strangely, everyone is unable to be fed because their tie is in a strange knot. I am able to touch my knot and it is released and everyone can eat now. I realize that the club is halfway up a mountain. I climb up the rest of the mountain, go over the top. I then run down the other side in joyous leaps and get to the bottom. I see a peasant with a cart, and the cart is empty.
These two dreams are from Elizabeth, a widow in her late seventies: :
I find an exhausted little white bird. I hold it gently in my two hands and wonder if I can keep it alive.
I am driving a car, being shown the right way to go by a low-flying bird that flies just ahead of me. There is a highway on my right and an abyss on my left.
This a dream of Helen Luke, at age 84:
A BURNING HOUSE
I dreamed of a house in which I was living, with other people living in other rooms of it. There was a fire in adjacent property and the firemen were at work, but it began to look as though our house was threatened. I was talking to a fireman and he asked whose house it was. I suddenly realized that it was not a place I had rented temporarily but my own house. I said so clearly, yet at the same time felt a kind of clarity and release, as though if it burned down no one but myself would be the loser, and it didn't matter to me much. There was no sense of danger to anyone's life in the dream, only to possessions.
FINISHING THE HOUSE
Gretchen D., recently retired, reported the following dream:
Over a period of years I had dreams in which I was living in my house. At the beginning I was living in the basement, and the house was in a dilapidated condition. In later dreams the house was always in an unfinished state. There were exposed beams instead of floor boards; wiring was dangling; water didn't come out of faucets in the bathroom. More recently, the house has become finished. Furniture is now in place, and the house is now much taller.
Work and Retirement
Some dreams give us a "glimpse of things to come" about our working life.
Consider the following dream of a writer who had been offered a job that promised to be lucrative but would require sacrifice of personal integrity because he would have to write about things he did not believe in:
I was sitting in a car at the foot of a high mountain where a narrow and exceedingly steep road began which led to the top of the mountain. I was doubtful whether I should drive up, since the road seemed very dangerous. But a man who stood near my car told me to drive up and not to be afraid. I listened to him and decided to follow his advice. I drove up, and the road got more and more dangerous. I could not stop, though, because there was no possibility of turning around. When I was near the top the motor stalled, and brakes would not work, the car rolled back and fell over a precipice! I woke up in terror.
This is the dream of a 45-year –old woman returning to college now that her children have left home:
I had to go on a long trip. I had heard about this new train that traveled very fast, but very dangerously. I really didn’t want to go on it. I felt I would rather fly, but several people told me it had to be all right (safe) because it was new. They showed me a sort of preview of it and it looked scary, but I thought I could stand it.
The following is the dream of a woman in her late fifties, after she has been told that her company is being taken over by another and reassured that her position will be secure:
In the dream I go to the office and find it completely rearranged into regimented rows of desks... My office is gone! The place is filled with strangers! I can't find my desk, and I'm in the middle of a project that I worry I won't be able to finish. The only actual offices are inhabited by white-haired men in hospital beds... I kept screaming--- Where is my desk? No on cared. I woke up in a cold sweat. The dream stayed with me all day. I said to myself-- I better start to think about what's next.
Best-selling author Caroline Myss credit’s a powerful dream with giving her the direction she needed to develop her career as an author. She was at one point in her life deeply discouraged, saying “I felt that I had lost my trust in life itself” though still retaining a faith that God would somehow lead her through it. Then she had a very powerful dream:
I was the only passenger in a small but high-powered jet plane. My plane was still on the ground, idling in what looked like a stall in a barn that held a number of other planes in similar stalls. Each of the other planes took off in succession, as they were meant to, but my plane continued to wait for permission from the control tower, while I grew angrier by the minute. Finally, I relayed a message to whomever was sitting in the control tower, ‘Hey! What about me?’
‘Turn your motor off,’ came the reply. ‘We’re holding you until the skies are safe for your journey.’
The following dream is from a 62-year old man, “Jason,” who had taken early retirement as a senior executive in the financial industry, which was followed by another job, and then a year off in which Jason was finally free of commitment as he pondered how to spend the remaining years of his life:
I had packed lightly and was on my way to Kennedy Airport. Two thirds of the way there I realized that I had completely forgotten my passport! I had not thought of it at all in preparing for the trip. I had given myself my normal, long lead time in getting to the airport so there was a chance I could turn around, go home and get it and still get back to the airport on time.
I was riding to the airport with a traveling companion, another man, a friend. He had packed a lot of bags, and I thought to myself, he's going to have a hard time lugging all that baggage along with him. I woke up.
The following dream was reported to me by a woman who, along with her husband, had moved to a luxury retirement community in Hilton Head, South Carolina. They made the move only after very careful study and planning for 10 years. But over time she became vaguely dissatisfied with the retirement community and then one night she had the following dream:
I dreamed I was back in high school at a dance and it was time to go home. I needed a ride home and I went around frantically asking everyone I knew for a ride. But no matter what I did, I couldn't get a ride home.
Becoming the Person You Were Meant to Be
Carl Jung believed that the overriding psychological task of the second half of life is what he called "individuation." Here are some dreams that illustrate that theme.
One of my own dreams:
I dreamed that I was supposed to be giving a big speech and I was waiting my turn until after the current speaker was finished. But soon I realized that I was entirely unprepared. I looked frantically through my notes on lined yellow pads. I found lots of other speeches I had prepared but not the one I was to give this time. I knew that my speech was supposed to be on the subject of failure, personal and organizational. Then suddenly I had an insight: I would approach the subject in a more positive way and build my whole speech instead around the subject of learning from one’s mistakes.
Another of my own dreams, at age 61:
I was with a small group of people who would be interviewing the President of Canada. But the experience was frustrating because this President had some kind of speech problem and as a result couldn’t say anything. So I asked the staff to tell me some basic facts about this leader. They told me, first of all, she’s a woman, in her late 50s, and also a philosopher. I was astonished to learn this. At just that moment the President did start to say something but by this point in the dream the President became a man. He spoke very briefly about how governments should always be self-critical. Even in the history of the church, he said, there was a prayer asking the church always to criticize itself.
The following is a recurrent dream of Helen Luke recorded in her autobiography:
In my dream, I sat on a stone. It was an old milestone such as still exist, or existed in my youth, along many of the roads of England. They always fascinated me: ancient, grey, rounded at the top, telling the miles to the city. The stone of my dreams was a milestone set opposite the last house in a small town or village. It was dusk, the light was grey, the street was completely empty of life, and the windows of the houses were blank. Then an upper window in the house opposite me was thrown open and a hard-faced woman spoke to me in an icily cold voice. She pointed to the desolate road which stretched to my right away from the village. 'Get out,' she said, 'go-- you are forbidden to stay here.' I looked along the road which ran on a sort of causeway and was lost in the mist, and I knew that I must walk along it alone. I woke in great fear.
A DIFFICULT TASK
I have been set a task nearly too difficult for me. A log of hard and heavy wood lies covered in the forest. I must uncover it, saw or hew from it a circular piece, and then carve through the piece a design. The result is to be preserved at all cost, as representing something no longer recurring and in danger of being lost. At the same time, a tape recording is to be made describing in detail what it is, what it represents, its whole meaning. At the end, the thing itself and the tape are to be given to the public library. Someone says that only the library will know how to prevent the tape from deteriorating within five years.
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This is Dr. Sally Gelardin, for Careerwell Tele-Interviews. Our guest speaker, Harry R. Moody, is currently Director of Academic Affairs for AARP. He is the author of over 100 scholarly articles and book chapters, as well as a number of books including a gerontology textbook now in its 3rd edition. His most recent book, The Five Stages of the Soul, was published by Doubleday Anchor Books (1997) and has been translated into seven languages worldwide. Harry Moody is known nationally for his work in older adult education. He recently stepped down as Chairman of the Board of Elderhostel. Here's an interesting networking story. I met him through his sister who plays oboe with my husband. Welcome Harry Moody. Here is my first question.
- How did you get involved in the field of aging?
- People talk about the need for “reinventing oneself.” What does that mean and how do you do that?
- I know your wrote a book, THE FIVE STAGES OF THE SOUL. Is that a book about aging or religion or what exactly?
- I understand you’re working on a book on dreams of people beyond middle age. Tell us a bit about that book.
- How would you interpret your own dream stated in the exercise you posted on your Careerwell page? SPEECH TIME I dreamed that I was supposed to be giving a big speech and I was waiting my turn until after the current speaker was finished. But soon I realized that I was entirely unprepared. I looked frantically through my notes on lined yellow pads. I found lots of other speeches I had prepared but not the one I was to give this time. I knew that my speech was supposed to be on the subject of failure, personal and organizational. Then suddenly I had an insight: I would approach the subject in a more positive way and build my whole speech instead around the subject of learning from one’s mistakes.
Another of my own dreams, at age 61:
SPEECHLESS LEADER I was with a small group of people who would be interviewing the President of Canada. But the experience was frustrating because this President had some kind of speech problem and as a result couldn’t say anything. So I asked the staff to tell me some basic facts about this leader. They told me, first of all, she’s a woman, in her late 50s, and also a philosopher. I was astonished to learn this. At just that moment the President did start to say something but by this point in the dream the President became a man. He spoke very briefly about how governments should always be self-critical. Even in the history of the church, he said, there was a prayer asking the church always to criticize itself.
- What tips do you have for listeners, most of whom are career counselors, on interpreting dreams?
- I hear a lot about people beyond midlife who want to go into business, become an entrepreneur and become their own boss. Is this realistic?
- When we look at the employment picture for people over fifty, it can be pretty discouraging. Why is that? What can be done about it?
- To what extent is ageism a problem in finding a job in later life?
- Do you think the idea of retirement has become obsolete?
- What are the key factors that make for positive aging?
- There are many people who think Social Security is going bankrupt. Is that true?
- What about people who are aging and who feel they’re losing their memory, that they’re too old to learn?
- What is AARP doing to help older workers, people who are out of a job?
- What other organizations are springing up that focus on
career issues for those in midlife and beyond?
Thank you Harry Moody. I don't feel as afraid of aging any more. Listeners, stay tuned for our last interview of the month with Tony Watts, from Cambridge, England, who will talk about Career Development and Public Policy. This is Dr. Sally Gelardin, with Careerwell Tele-Interviews. Good-by until next week.