So many 50th anniversaries of Baby Boomer milestones to celebrate these days, from the Beatles appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show fifty years ago to President Kennedy’s assassination. And expect a lot more, since the Baby Boomer generation spans 18 years of history (1946-1964). Moreover, in 2014 all boomers, even the youngest ones born in 1964, are passing the 50 mark and most boomers are now facing the transition to the second act in their lives.
Time to figure out what the sixties decade means. What I’m going to say here is based on my own experience. When I left behind a lifetime career at the United Nations, I thought I was going to enter into a wonderful period of R & R (rest and recuperation). Hey, I deserved it! But no, it didn’t pan out. Too much to do. There was my writing, I wanted to renew with my childhood dream of becoming an artist. But I hadn’t stopped being a wife, a mother (two grown-up children) and…a daughter. My Mom, 100 years old and still thriving, reads one novel a week on her Kindle.
So here goes.
- The biggest transition is realizing that you’re the “sandwiched generation“. In spite of all the hype about how rebellious Baby Boomers have changed History, the truth is very different. Most of us are not into politics or big events. We find we are responsible for both our old parents and our children. The parents may not be in their dotage quite yet, but they need care. Our children in some cases may still be toddlers (a result of the fashion for late marriages), but for most of us, they are grown-up. With the on-going recession, chances are they’re home, struggling to find a job. As parents, we are happy to have them around, but it’s impossible not to worry about their future.
- You’ve finally know the distance between the real world and the ideal one. The distance is big and no one can pull a fast one on you.
- There may be no “soul mates”, you’ve known there weren’t since you were in your 40s, but you can distinguish between your real friends who will help you and those who won’t. This is perhaps the most surprising thing: it’s still possible to make new friends in your 60s.
- You learn more about yourself, more than you ever thought possible. The last time you learned so much was back when you were in your late teens and early twenties. That’s exhilarating. And frightening. For us writers, that transition to greater self-knowledge is a fantastic fount of inspiration to write novels (indeed, that’s what inspired Louis Begley with his About Schmidt series or my own Crimson Clouds, a romance featuring a man who’s just retired and wants to become an artist to the dismay of his wife).
- On a lighter note: You see the good side of things more easily than before. You’ve learned to appreciate the simple things in life and honest friendship – because now you trust your judgment and you know you’re not going to live forever. Carpe Diem! Catch the joy in each day and spread it around.
- On a yet lighter note: Now you can buy those tight jeans, you’ve learned to control your weight (about time too!)
Photo credit: Baby Boomers haven, ThinkPanama.com
Cover Wars: Vote for your favorite book cover and don’t forget to vote mine, (grin) it’s “Crimson Clouds”. Check it out here. They all look great (even if I really like mine)!