My advice for my fellow Boomers who feel quite stuck – written for the Retirement and Good Living blog:
George Elliot said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” A great quote if there ever was one. It’s inspiring for us Boomers who still have some gas left in the tank and are looking for “one more bite of the apple.”
I was reading recently about how Michelangelo went about creating a sculpture. He said that he looked at the rock, decided what was in it, then chipped everything else away. In other words, he was looking to see what the rock was supposed to be. Isn’t that what we do, constantly seek to find who we are supposed to be. Our job then, is to get rid of everything else.
There is a tendency to grow up becoming who others want us to be. Then one day we wake up and look around, and realize that the path we have been on has not been of our choosing; we have lived primarily to satisfy the expectation of those around us – parents, teachers, children, friends, bankers, etc.
So, do you continue following someone else’s path or do you cut your own and leave a trail? If so, it’s time to chip away at all that doesn’t belong.
It’s never too late to be what you might have been.
Evidence That It’s Never Too Late:
- Nelson Mandela was 76 when he became President
- Jack Lalanne at age 70 handcuffed, shackled, towed 70 rowboats
- Ronald Reagan was 69 when he became President of the United States
- Dianna Nyad, at 64, became the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a protective cage.
- J R R Tolkien was 62 when the Lord of The Ring books came out
- Colonel Harland Sanders was 61 when he started the KFC Franchise
- Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III was 57 years old when he successfully ditched US Airways Flight 1549, in the Hudson River in, 2009. All of the 155 passengers aboard the aircraft survived
- Dr. Seuss was 54 when he wrote The Cat In The Hat
- Ray Kroc Was 53 when he bought the McDonalds franchise and took it to unprecedented levels
- Abraham Lincoln was 52 when he became president
- Leonardo Da Vinci was 51 years old when he painted the Mona Lisa
- Charles Darwin was 50 years old when his book On the Origin of Species came out
Decide if you are on the path you want to be on, or if it’s time to makes some changes.
Stephen John Stulic is a partner with Designs To Grow Coaching and Training, helping clients find their voice and a life of purpose by encouraging them to make inspired choices, and challenging them with the prospect of what they can become. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My mother just died.
She was 92, in quickly deteriorating health, and didn’t see the inside of her home again during the final six months of her life – she needed far too much, and round-the-clock, skilled care – best handled in a Skilled Nursing Facility (aka, “nursing home”). We found her the best available facilities in this woods’ neck, stayed on top of her care daily to ensure it was highest quality (aka “squeaky wheel”), visited her daily, and, I hope, helped her to leave this world with as little suffering as her body would allow.
I’m sad. Sad that her body was so broken in the end; sad that given my own disability I couldn’t do more for her myself; sad that there will be no more visits and dinner outings with her; sad that I’m now an orphan (daddy died in 2009).
In that I’m a wee too old to be upset that I have no parents now, I’m realizing that this is a Boomer phenomena – we take the loss of our parents harder than our parents did the loss of theirs.
Why is that?
Here’s my theory.
I believe our parents were, well, a bit more adult adults than we are as we live our dream of perpetual youth. We’ve depended on our parents far more than they did theirs, remaining “children” far longer. Too many of us depend upon our inheritance as our retirement plan, having spent up and borrowed away what we earned. Even those of us who became, and will become, our parents’ caretakers in the end as was I, and therefore took on a type of “parenting” role with and of them, do so in a way different than our parents did theirs; some of us doing it from afar and therefore, frankly, less effectively by necessity, some petulantly (annoyed that an ailing elder is interrupting their daily routine), most of us lovingly but perhaps with a tinge of shock that we must sacrifice in ways to which we’re unaccustomed.
Their “greatest generation” moniker came from lives of sacrifice, stoic determination, toughened by the need to take on great responsibility at an early age (some right after high school, many before even completing it) thus being better prepared for such significant loss.
Our at times aptly coined “me” generation came from being more coddled, cared for through college and for some beyond, we had/have lives of greater comfort than they; we are softer.
They felt like grown-ups who understood the loss of their parents as another part of life to rise above. We feel like….orphans.
My mother and father, I realize now, lived up to their generation’s sensibilities, something I didn’t appreciate enough when they were alive. I will try to emulate them now.
Mom, Dad, I think I’ve finally learned what you tried to teach us all along – the ideals of humility, thrift, strength to face and conquer adversity with dignity (eg without losing stride…) that your generation tried to teach ours but we cast aside as too “old fashioned” – now that you’re gone, I’ve finally grown up.
We Boomers have experienced a steep increase in negative public opinion about our generation over the past few years, a growing chorus to our terrible societal stewardship; we’re responsible for every conceivable ill from everyone’s bad marriage to the national debt.
As I mumbled to myself “…if I hear or read one more piece about how the world sucks and Boomers are to blame, I’ll (fill in with some sort of impure thought)” …. I stopped in my tracks… “Hey, are we to blame for all that’s gone wrong over the past 40 or so years?”
The answer, of course, is “sort of…” We have stumbled in the ways we’ve conducted ourselves as adults, as parents, as leaders.
But there’s a flip side to all the finger-pointing at our generation, that entails gleefully ignoring all that we accomplished to make life far easier for the following generations, things that are so taken for granted today that they go unnoticed, and vastly underappreciated. And it’s up to us to disabuse (verbiage by design) of this notion all who wish to believe we’re “the worst generation” – from the media to our own children. Continue reading
I have two of ’em – and they adopted me. Both were abused, and then abandoned in my neighborhood, both decided on mine as their new home. Obviously a good choice, because they’ve been living here for many years, now.
Both are now in fine health and living the good cat life: I am their concierge, feeder of exactly the right foods (or they shall not deign to eat it), back scratcher when they want attention & ignorer when they don’t, etc.
I’ve always been of the opinion that cats serve no useful purpose as companion animals – they don’t:
- “come when you call” (although mine do sometimes…sort of…)
- make you feel needed (more like tolerated when you do all of your cat-caring duties properly)
- act like they care whether you live or die (see bullet #2)
But I have discovered something very important for our human well-being that I learned from them – just noticed it, actually.
When they are in their most relaxed state is when they groom themselves. And then as a cyclic thing, grooming themselves perpetuates their state of relaxation.
With humans, one of the first outward signs of stress is letting go of our appearance – ignoring our “grooming”…
So, conversely, perhaps one of the best stress-reducers is grooming – whether going for the standard soak in a hot tub, or just taking some time to get (or give yourself) a manicure/pedicure, get your hair done, or taking some extra grooming steps at home as a treat.
Try it…and let me know how it works out!