These are great topics – discussed them at lunch in high school in the 60s.
Discussing them over lunch in our 60s is a very different exercise.
Set aside, for the moment, everything you know about death, dying, aging, and finding younger people on the obituary page – just set it aside for now.
Sleep is the new sex, 60 is the new 40, mid-life is a jumping-off point, not an end-game. Fear of irrelevance is something we don’t think of until it becomes hard to think of much else. The notion of relevance is something we don’t think of much, until that point where it becomes hard to think of much else. I’m not saying ‘fixated,’ but instead ‘gripped by it.’
If life is to matter, what does that mean, and how could we measure it?
As a writer, these subjects interest me, and as a ‘man north of 60,’ they grip my like few things ever have. The folks at WebMD did an interesting piece called Romance After 60 – it makes reference to an exciting book title: WE LIVE TOO SHORT AND DIE TOO LONG by Walter Bortz.
The question is in three parts, as I see it, and only two of those addressed in the current literature.
Length of Life
This issue is well and widely debated – and my views are part ‘Blue Zone Fan,’ which advocated diet and lifestyle matching those who thrive well past 100 in those areas. The trend, as promoted by Dan Buettner’s Blue Zones book, is to buy the book and subscribe to his newsletter – but I’m not sensing a groundswell movement anywhere on the planet. Good for Dan, for making a buck, but the real challenge for society is to change behavior, so we actually live longer rather than only getting more people to read about living longer without doing anything about it. Don’t hold your breath waiting for governments or health services industries to get on board – it is not in their best interest. The cost of care and services for large numbers of people living longer is not something the social-safety net of first world and second world insurers, pension plans, and governments have considered – because it scares the crap out of them.
Quality of Life
This is a ‘nice phrase,’ don’t you agree? But what does it mean if not considered as part of a discussion about what our expectations might be? Again, lots of literature to put you to sleep – most of it coaching you on how to have a happy sedentary existence with some bird-watching recommended. Still, people who are athletic, academic, and sexually active later in life is anecdotal and sparse – rather than front-page headlines advocating life, liberty, and the pursuit of a happy Saturday night.
What are we doing with the life we have left?
This area, for me, is a gaping vacancy of information, dialogue, or interest – yet I see it as a massive opportunity. Remember, when we were 30-something and had grand dreams to change the world, invent new businesses, and build a legacy? What is stopping us from being that way now – what stands in our way aside from our own brains.
While younger folks are exploring quantum computing, 3D printed food, and A.I., what are we ‘older-codgers’ doing? We know how to see opportunity, how to seize it, and how to not be discouraged when instant success fails to show up. We know now, we can make choices to take chances – and we need to do it without putting our ass and/or assets on the line. But why not? We can’t take it with us – and sitting on our horde or small pile isn’t doing us much good, because it only serves governments and pension plans to ‘carry on until we are gone,’ and then we are just another accounting entry, another anonymous life over – and forgotten.
Why not live our lives anew?
Why not live a new life – perhaps one we’ve always wanted but were too much the turtle to stick our neck out?