Observations on Age

Remember when 18 meant something more, like ‘hey, you’re 18. You’re an adult. Act like one.’ And when working past the age of 65 was like, ‘huh?’

I encounter a lot of 20 year old’s treading water, waiting to grow up, putting off independence, crawling towards adulthood. But I also see many 20 year old’s writing novels, starting businesses, producing TV shows, taking college seriously, and working really, really hard. What I don’t see is a lot of in between.

It’s as if the middle ground has been sucked into a worm hole at the center of the achievement universe. And I’m convinced this is not driven by economics, not in America anyway. In so many ways, the new economy favors the one who has always been forced to try harder, never been given a free ride, pushed of the couch and into the real world.

My mom just went to Africa to work for two weeks. She’s 72. Cecily Tyson is 88. She was just nominated for a Tony for a Broadway show she performs in eight times a week. My dad, even though he has fought some very challenging health issues in the past five years, is running two businesses and busier than ever at 68.

Is 90 the new 60? Is 50 the new 30? Is 25 the new 17? I’m starting to think that’s the wrong language here. We used to have boxes for age: 18, adult. 40, middle age. 65, old. 85, lucky to be alive. Maybe it was the economic crash that changed the rules or a combination of events that included a long cycle of prosperity. Either way, the new paradigm is much simpler: you are exactly how old you think you are. It’s on you. You decide at 19 if you’re too young or lazy or broken or immature to get your act together and make something out of yourself right now. And if you’re 68 or 72 or 88 or 101, (very serious health issues aside) you decide how vibrant you are.

I was at the gym not too long ago and I saw a guy working out. Looking at this guy I thought: ‘he has to be in his 70’s, but man, this dude is in very good shape.’ I asked him how old he was and his reply was a good lesson in the new economy: ‘if I tell you how old I am, you’ll put me in a box. So I’m not telling you.’ Maybe he was 90! Smart guy.

We are no longer limited by our age – we’re not too young or too old or stuck in the endless middle – we’re just right if we believe we are.

2 Comments

  1. Natalie says:

    Great observation. My nephews are 19 and 24. They sit at home playing xbox letting the world pass them by. Many parents unknowingly rob their children of the opportunity to be great, to see the world and participate in it. I am a friend of your mother and she is an amazing woman. I am blessed to know her.

  2. i love how you observed age.

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