The Odyssey Years

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By DAVID BROOKS, Op-Ed Columnist, October 9, 2007
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/09/opinion/09brooks.html
There used to be four common life phases: childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age. Now, there are at least six: childhood, adolescence, odyssey, adulthood, active retirement and old age. Of the new ones, the least understood is odyssey, the decade of wandering that frequently occurs between adolescence and adulthood.

During this decade, 20-somethings go to school and take breaks from school. They live with friends and they live at home. They fall in and out of love. They try one career and then try another.

Their parents grow increasingly anxious. These parents understand that there’s bound to be a transition phase between student life and adult life. But when they look at their own grown children, they see the transition stretching five years, seven and beyond. The parents don’t even detect a clear sense of direction in their children’s lives. They look at them and see the things that are being delayed.

They see that people in this age bracket are delaying marriage. They’re delaying having children. They’re delaying permanent employment. People who were born before 1964 tend to define adulthood by certain accomplishments — moving away from home, becoming financially independent, getting married and starting a family.

In 1960, roughly 70 percent of 30-year-olds had achieved these things. By 2000, fewer than 40 percent of 30-year-olds had done the same.

. . . .
I am hoping for the day that my children are fully independent and on their own - voluntarily. They don't have to get married or start a family, but having their own place and being economically self-sufficient are my expectations.
 

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The odyssey thing is interesting, but I don't understand why there is a jump from adulthood to old age. Being middle aged I am too old for some adult milestones like starting a family, but too young to be classified as being in "old age."

Anyway, the "Odyssey Years" are clearly the result of the widespread use of street drugs, especially pot. Life is about "chillin'", taking it easy. If you have any big plans they are for this movie you want to write, the "graphic novel" you might draw, the video game you want to put together, or maybe for a CD you want to cut with your buds in the garage band. Not so far fetched: a laptop and the right software is nearly as good as having superpowers. But let's chill and smoke another doobie before we get to work.
 

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