The next stage
- A new book about a new stage
Whatever point I am in my life, whatever problems I am encountering, whatever phase I’m going through….I turn to books. I’m not looking for answers, per se, but rather some new insights to trigger my thinking on the subject. A few people in my life have made fun of my tendency to do research when encountering the unknown; apparently spontaneity and making it up as you go along are the preferred approaches for them. But I like to piggy back on the valuable lessons learned and shared by others.
So it makes sense that I have begun to collect books on the aging baby boom generation, as I move into the unknown along with my peers. The baby boomers have been turning 65 in 2011. That means that Ricky Miller, my high school boyfriend, is about to turn 65 in July. It’s mind blowing. But Marc Freedman, author of The Big Shift assures me that there is new and meaningful stage that I have entered without realizing it and which I will progress through over the next twenty years, if I’m lucky. Freeman reminds us that the developmental stage “adolescence” was constructed at the turn of the century, as young people were newly encouraged to stay in school and not enter the work force before 16. More recently, new college graduates in their twenties are returning home in droves and delaying the start of their serious working and marital lives until age 30 or more. This tumultuous new stage has been dubbed “emerging adulthood.”
Freedman locates a post-midlife stage between midlife and true old age. “The Encore Stage, in fully realized form is characterized by confluence over reinvention, by the weaving together of accumulated skills, insights, perspective and experience into a new amalgam. It is epitomized by encore careers that provide continued income, new meaning and social impact and can be enhanced greatly by pathways and policies that promote social mobility and cross-generational connection. The end result promises to be a windfall of talent for society unlike anything we’ve seen since women moved into new productive roles in the 1960’s and 1970’s.” Sounds pretty good!
Basically, Freedman is saying that 60 is not the new 40 or 50. It’s the new 60 and that should be good enough. I’m shoring myself up to think about this new Encore Stage as interesting and enlightening, if not thrilling. It’s hard for me to acknowledge that I, myself, have to overcome some cultural prejudices against this age.