Abby Ellin, New York Times, writes about the late-life renaissances that many Baby Boomers experience when they re-decide what they want to be when they grow up.
When we were younger, many of us drifted into college studies and post-college careers that may or may not have been our first choice but at least paid the bills. As we near retirement, or even years before retirement, we wonder, “Is this all there is?” And when we wonder like that, we get dissatisfied, and when we get dissatisfied – if we’re gutsy – we’ll do what it takes to become satisfied. If we don’t attain our desired level of satisfaction, we’ll languish: lose vitality, grow weak, and become feeble. My oh my, is that what you want?
Lucille Gang Shulklapper didn’t languish. She dreamed of being a writer and at the age of 60, published her 1st book of poetry. Now 80, she has many more publishing credits to her name. Ms. Shulklapper is my hero. I’m a writer who is in my early 60s and I plan on publishing at least two novels prior to qualifying for Medicare. It’s about doing what is important to you and not settling for less. Ernestine Shepherd began her bodybuilding career at the age of 56. Diana Nyad swam from Cuba to Florida at 64.
But listen up: you don’t have to break any records; just break through the humdrum of your life!
Karl A. Pillemer, professor of gerontology at Cornell University has this to say about aging:
We absolutely have to revamp this idea of a linear pattern of accomplishment that ends when you’re 50 or 60 … There are simply too many examples of people who bloom late, and it’s the most extraordinary time of their life.
The good news about this directional change in your life is that it doesn’t have to be monumental to be worthwhile. Whether your late-blooming self evolves towards a later life without recognition, or you make it onto the front page of Time magazine – as long as you’re doing what you need to do to experience fulfillment, you’ve succeeded at becoming the best and most satisfied person you can be.
Take these words to heart, by Jan Shively, 83, who over the past several years has founded three organizations to empower older adults to lead productive lives:
“My message is: meaningful work, paid or unpaid, through the last breath.”
I’ve written several articles that encourage a satisfying re-purposing of ones life. I hope you’ll give them a look-see: