The Third Age
April 28, 2011
My father was all about work. He loved what he did, and he was never ready to retire. When he finally did give in, he didn't know what to do with his time. He didn't play golf (or shuffleboard). He didn't live long in retirement, and sometimes I think he died of boredom.
I thought about my father and what he missed by just a generation when I read The Big Shift—Navigating the New Stage Beyond Midlife, a new book by Marc Freedman, founder of Civic Ventures. The Third Age is a "new" stage between the middle years and true old age. Freedman is a strong advocate for using those years to continue to contribute to society and to one's own growth. He tells stories of lives re-invented after age fifty, of a Teach for America Corps member who at fifty-something trained to be a teacher while living in a dorm with twenty-two-year-olds and of a "retired" doctor, serving the poor with such outstanding medical care that people with the ability to pay for the most expensive care flock to his clinic.
In his book, Freedman suggests resources for further education, for volunteer opportunities, internships and much more. He guides us through ten steps that might help us plan for a more fulfilling later life. Sixty is not and will not be the new fifty. But with life expectancies on the rise, and with the help and inspiration of people like Marc Freedman, sixty can be the new sixty.