15 Oct THE REVIEW MIRROR
This is the healthiest, wealthiest and best educated generation to ever reach midlife. One hundred years ago the average life expectancy was less than 50 years old, but today when we reach 50 we have thirty bonus years. This is an unprecedented change in the human condition and we are not prepared.
At the same time I had to ask myself how long I will last if the most important things in my life were all in the past. Can I live the next 25 years peering through the review mirror? Reliving the heroics of the past?
We have an extraordinary amount to contribute and the generation that follows needs us desperately. I wonder what would happen if a group of 50-60 year olds could get turned on to the idea that they have another 25-30 years of productivity. Revolutionary things might happen. What if you could be as passionate about the next 30 years as you were in the years that brought you to this place – I can only imagine.
I decided to look up the definition of the word “retirement” in the dictionary and was startled to see it described as “to put out of use”. Yikes. Images of piles of old computers and electronics in recycling centers jumped into my head. I wonder if we would think differently if instead of retirement parties, our contributions were celebrated with “putting out of use” parties?
Now don’t get me wrong, the idea of enjoying the fruits of your labor is indeed worth looking forward to. But after you’ve played golf five days a week, travelled the world and walked on every beach imaginable – then what? Once you’ve sorted all the photographs, organized your shell collection and decided that you’ll never make the seniors tour, what will the next 28 years look like?
And review mirrors are important. They provide us with a multitude of lessons and thousands of memories – they are a record of our time here on earth. So a quick glimpse is nice, it’s reassuring and comforting. If you choose to “go forward,” you realize that life is lived in seasons and your second half can be as, if not more, remarkable than the first.
As my friend Bob Buford says, a whole second adulthood!
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead)