From the time we were old enough to watch cartoons on TV, we’ve been taught to see older people in the negative. By now, you’ve seen thousands of women’s magazine covers telling you you’re inadequate. After a lifetime of negative cultural influences about aging, I developed a personal battle cry:
Don’t try to be young. Try to be you.
After fifty, there’s a great deal to be happy about! (Good news about positive aspects of the aging brain, here.) If I can convince you, and as many of our friends as possible, well, that’s my life’s work. Because think of how much negativity we could erase from our culture. I want my adult kids and grandkids to admire aging, not fear it!
As a sample, here are some posts on the subject:
- What Does Wisdom Mean to Me?
- The Power of Maturity – Bring It Home, Baby
- Don’t You Love Being 60?
- Outgrowing Your Self-Improvement Obsession
- The Empty Nest: Heartache and Opportunity
- Does Your Doctor See You Through Gray-Colored Glasses?
In addition to blogging and speaking about positive aging, I write fiction, and I specialize in adult coming-of-age stories. This is similar to the traditional COA story, where young people surmount obstacles in order to fall in love, start a career and family, and create a life.
But adult COAs are different, because here we see what happens afterwards. I want to know what happens 20, 30 years later. At that point, we may have as many productive years left as the number it took to raise our kids.
Older people have a second coming-of-age to go through, and now the stakes and rewards are just as great.
This is the time of life to make it happen, reexamine choices, and forge new paths. At this point, we know the clock is ticking, so we’re on fire to make that time count. We have dreams. We lay out goals and objectives like anybody else. We start businesses. We cook up schemes. We fall in love.
We throw the Hail Mary pass, risking everything, just like young people.
But here’s where it gets interesting: on top of that, we face unique obstacles because of age, whether illness or death, or life-threatening heartache. Our characters deepen. We might decide to stop being doormats, or take a stand, or make the greatest sacrifice of our lives.
All this while our bodies and faces are changing, and society thinks we’re a joke.
That’s the midlife coming-of-age story. How could anybody think it unimportant?
As fascinating as the kids are, I think old peeps are even more interesting. We may not be as pretty, but we’re more devious and complicated. And so are our stories.
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