After 50, No Positive Milestones

If you’re post-menopausal and (one hopes) female, you’ve probably got at least as many years left as the number you spent raising your kids. Men, a little less but still plenty. What milestones might you be looking forward to in this, the second half of your one precious life?

Here’s what the culture tells you to expect:

  • You’ll lose things: bone density, skin tone, hair (except where you don’t want hair. There, you’ll get lots of it, overnight and without warning), memory, energy, friends, loved ones.
  • You’ll need lots of pills.
  • You’ll decline further and die.

Society has no expectations of you in the second half of your life, in contrast to the first:

  • You’ll get teeth! You’ll stand upright and walk! You’ll enter school!
  • You’ll get your license! Prom! Graduation! First job!
  • Marriage/kids/career/anniversaries/grandkids!
  • Retirement!!

Then what? Uh oh. See above. So that sucks. What to do, what to do?

Here’s what I recommend. We’re an independent bunch, right?

Let’s establish our own awesome, middle-age-and-older milestones to which one can look forward with delight. If you lived in a different culture than one in which we do (the Hollywood-defined one in which, as Steve Almond says in his profoundly thoughtful introduction to Cheryl’s Strayed’s new book, explosions/shiny tits comprise our personhood), you might not have to do this, but since you do, you may as well revel in the freedom to make things up. So, what milestones might, in your ideal world, beckon to you in the second half of life?

Here are some ideas to get you started, and then I hope you’ll contribute.

IN THE SECOND HALF OF LIFE, ONE IS EXPECTED TO AT LEAST MAKE AN EFFORT TOWARD ACCOMPLISHING THE FOLLOWING:

  • Women will develop a new and highly personal sense of style, characterized by three essential elements: fashion, comfort, and making young women envious.
  • Pursuit of your grand objective is expected. Whatever dream you’ve blathered about for the past fifty years or so – travel, a sport, painting, starting a business, writing, reading, thinking, teaching, computer expertise, living fulltime in an RV, photography, dance, singing, escaping – you’ll be expected to make major moves in that direction.
  • Your overriding political interest will change from your own good to the welfare of the country and planet. I.E., larger than yourself.
  • Your kids will see you as an example of how to live powerfully in the second half. (They won’t pity you, as in this sad little article.)

Listen, people. We’re old; we’re awesome – those lines in your face speak of hard-won experience. How about we tap into our power instead of giving it away by worshipping at the altar of a culture that tells us that if we’re not fertile (women) or kickingass/takingnames (men), we’re pointless?

Please share your utopian dreams with us.

Comments

  1. kate granado says

    i have been blessed with a naivety about what i can accomplish and it is the one thing that has not broken down with age.
    i am 65 and i am planning my next career move. this will be my 7th career. i have a “7 year itch” and i am contemplating leaving my fabulous job of designer/product developent/world traveler-buyer to sit at a new desk and write [and you have such a voice, i just discovered you].
    i would not go back to rock & roll studio mgr, hand bag designer,5 star hotel event dir, publishing mgr, entrepreneur, company president or desiner/product development. i’m going to deveopment my new self and like anna quindlen – i’ve never counted the candles and i have always eaten the cake.

    • says

      Kate, Lynne here. I’m glad you love my blog. Pennie is my smart, brilliant, awesomely inspiring neighbor who also reads Any Shiny Thing. Your attitude is like what I imagine drinking a can of Red Bull would be like: INVIGORATING! Thanks for stopping by and great luck with your next reinvention. Life is for the living!

  2. says

    “not fertile or kicking ass taking names” loved these descriptors. We’re pointless? I also find we’re a bit invisible. That can be nice in some regards. It’s my first time here and I say, “hear, hear” to positive milestones. It’s precisely why I blog!

  3. kate granado says

    i have been blessed my whole life with a naivety about what i can accomplish and it is the one thing that has not broken down with age.
    i am 65 and i am planning my next career move. this will be my 7th career. i seem to have a “7 year itch” and i am contemplating leaving my fabulous job of designer/product developent/world traveler-buyer to sit at a new desk and write [and you my dear pennie have such a voice, i just discovered you]. i might even become a motivational speaker for 30 yr old woman, they need some words of wisdom!
    i would not go back to rock & roll studio mgr, hand bag designer,5 star hotel event dir, publishing mgr, entrepreneur, company president or desiner/product development. i’m going to deveopment my new self and like anna quindlen – i’ve never counted the candles and i have always eaten the cake.
    thanks pennie, love your blog, can i adopt you as my new inspiration for writing?

  4. Pennie says

    I was one that didn’t get this post last week, so thanks for resending it. I get so inspired each week when I read your article! Because if my personal story (300+ pound loss) I am looking forward to doing all the things now that I could not do in my 20′s,30′s and 40′s. Life is wonderful even if is does have a few extra aches and pains! And your article reminds me that I actually am proud of the wrinkles I see in the mirror!

  5. says

    We’re in what my friend and I call The Age of Luminosity.
    I love your suggestions. I plan to continue to be a competitive swimmer with US Masters until I die. I want the younger swimmers to say, “I hope I can swim like that when I’m ninety.”
    (I’m not a fast swimmer even now, but the older a swimmer gets, the more impressive any effort becomes.)

  6. says

    Lynne, With the exception of a few fleeting moments of nostalgia for more youthful days, i have to say, I’m thrilled to have survived/thrived through many trials. To be younger again only means having to go through all the muck I had to go through to get to where I am now- living a good life and enjoying my freedom.

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