Redefining “Old”

In a recent issue of The Atlantic, Ezekiel J. Emmanuel declared that he (only) wants to live 75 years. (He’s 57.) He balances the loss of death with the loss of living too long. It’s well-written; you should read it. (Especially note his Productivity of People with High Creative Potential chart.) He admits to “flipping [the health care] default on its head.”

Regardless whether you agree, it’s interesting that so many of his readers expect to live longer than 75. Adult Americans have life expectancies into their 80s, and we expect to live forever. To that end we older (I’ll be 68 next month) are sucking up a disproportionate amount of our society’s resources prolonging life with diminishing returns all around. (Social Security suffers from an 80-year-old now-false assumption that few of us would live beyond 65.)

I don’t suggest cutting access to medical care at any age, though some ethicists advocate just that. Each of us–especially those near or beyond retirement age–should examine ourselves and our lives.

My take is: If you haven’t achieved what you thought you’d achieve, maybe you should reconsider either your goals or your methodology.

I paint and write, and I win recognition for both. (This year I published my first book.) A few years along I learned to play a musical instrument for the first time in my life. A older friend teaches English as a second language. Mentoring is good. What do you do?

Don’t think of this as a bucket list, but as a life list. What moves you? What appeals to you?

Go do it. Soon.

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One thought on “Redefining “Old”

  1. I had a good role model. My father retired in his early 60’s due to health reasons then spent more than 10 years at VCU taking classes in the English department and produced a thousand poems. He also continued making paintings until dementia that began around age 81 took away his skills, in both poetry and painting. Unfortunately people’s bodies sometimes outlive their minds.
    When I stopped working, I never looked back because I was already involved in volunteer work and writing. Everyone I know continues to have a full, productive life. Sometimes productive lives don’t correlate with age, rather with attitude and intelligence.

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