EDITORIAL NOTE: Here is an old-fashioned word for you: nonplussed (to be surprised and confused so much that you are unsure how to react). That's how I feel. There is such a gigantic amount to be said following the nominee hearings, the Russia-related political events of last week and Trump's attack on John Lewis on Martin Luther King weekend that I don't know what to say first. Or second. Or third. I am politically speechless for the time-being so even though I think there ought to be a discussion about our collective political nightmare, we'll do something else today.
There is such a gigantic amount to be said following the nominee hearings, the Russia-related political events of last week and Trump's attack on John Lewis on Martin Luther King weekend that I don't know what to say first. Or second. Or third.
I am politically speechless for the time-being so even though I think there ought to be a discussion about our collective political nightmare, we'll do something else today.
When I first started this blog 14 or so years ago, hardly anything was published in the popular press about ageing. When old people were mentioned at all, it was sure to be ageist, negative or both - often something about how awful life after 40 is.
That changed with a vengeance beginning in 2006, when the entire media took notice at once that the oldest baby boomers were turning 60 that year. Suddenly, ageing was lucrative, if not “cool.”
Every magazine did a cover story that year about the don't-trust-anyone-over-30 generation's crossover into old age.
A torrent of books followed, along with a slew of articles in print, on brand new old-age websites, and right behind all of that a sudden upsurge in the number of people self-identified as “senior life coaches” - apparently for those of us who need instruction on how to grow old.
All that and more are still around - a now well-established corner of the lucrative personal advice market - so much so that I receive half a dozen press releases in an average week about new books, sometimes a television show, magazine or online articles whose writers I am told I should interview.
The thing is, however, they all have the same advice. After you translate the psychological or academic jargon of many and plow through the filler, each expert boils it down “empowerment” - bumper sticker wisdom ready-made for embroidering on a pillow, or the internet equivalent thereof, that we've known for most of our lives:
Be true to yourself
Be who you truly are
That last one is a common promise of age gurus that leaves me wondering what the opposite looks like. Some time ago, one “expert” I was being asked to interview believed that decluttering the house was all anyone needed to “empower” their old age.
Nothing wrong with cleaning up but let's not overstate its transformational “power” of throwing out old knick-knacks.
You don't have to go far to find old age advice but these banal prescriptions, a lot of them from the flourishing life coach industry, sound flimsy, inadequate and ineffective. And anyway, why can't we just let life happen?
After we got past the fireman and princess stages, hardly any kids I knew in school had an inkling of what they wanted to be when we grew up and only a handful of the few who were passionate about becoming a doctor, lawyer or Indian chief actually did it.
Although teachers regularly asked us to write essays about our career goals, I never could come up with an answer.
After high school with adulthood looming, I didn't need a teacher to goad me into thinking about what to do with my life although by then, in keeping with the predicable stage of development I was passing through, it seemed more an existential question than the need to choose an occupation.
Pondering what might bring me personal satisfaction didn't get me any closer to to finding a worthwhile or interesting way to pay the rent than high school essay assignments so I made a deliberate decision to not make a decision.I clearly recall thinking it through when I was 20 or 21: I would just keep on keeping on, putting one foot in front of the other and see where it would lead me - starting out with my single marketable skill, typing.
And you know what? It worked. It worked out amazingly well for me: several related careers producing radio, then television, then being part of the team creatiing one of the first news websites in the mid-1990s which gave me an internet career for the decade until I retired.
Without exception, it was compelling, satisfying work thaty expanded my knowledge of the world every day while giving me the chops to do this blog which has extended the same pleasures and rewards into my later years.
How lucky is that for someone without a plan?
No small part of the ongoing research for this blog has been paying enough attention to the senior life coaches and other old-age gurus (as distinct from medical and health information) to keep up with what they prescribe.
So far, there has been nothing useful to pass on to you that the ancient Greeks hadn't already told us (see above list).
Although it is not their purpose, what these “experts” have convinced me is that I should live the rest of my life as I did during the preceding half century – just keep moving and see where it takes me. After all, it worked well then; why not now?
What about you? Do you have a plan for how to live the rest of your life? Did you ever have a plan or, like me, did you just let it happen?