Holding onto Meaning
through the Life Cycle
EDITORS' INTRODUCTION Marris describes the changes in our concerns as we move through life. In our earliest years we attend first of all to our security and, when our security has been established, to opportunity for exploration. Our concerns then widen and become more complex as childhood gives way to adolescence. Adolescents ponder, among other things, the principles according to which life should be lived; in adolescence we begin questing after meaning. But during the long years of adulthood that follow adolescence, with adulthood's responsibilities for self, home, and job, what matters is likely to be so obvious that there is no point in giving it attention. What matters is to make good on our commitments: financial, parental, marital, social. When adulthood gives way to later life, issues of meaning may again arise.
Despite the changes in our concerns, we remain throughout our lives recognizably ourselves in the categories we use for understanding and in our assumptions about ourselves and others. Even though the situations of our lives change, our personalities, although they may be modified as we adapt to new situations, have at their core a continuous self. Indeed, as we move from the years of working and raising children into later life we