As French author Andre Gide once said, “It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves—in finding themselves.”
Baby boomers are by far the largest demographic of American society today. Their influence shows no sign of waning as they enter their senior years. This group is healthier, more youthful, more vigorous, and more involved than past generations have been. Both boomers, and many of their parents, are living longer than any other group, and are often willing to take tremendous risks in order to realize their dreams. No other generation has ever been this audacious.
These older citizens are living their lives with passion, understanding that aging does not mean slowing down. It also does not signify a quiet retirement in a hushed, lazy suburban town. Boomers, along with their older brothers and sisters, often enjoy exciting experiences and venues involving music, art, and sports—to name just a few. They love to learn new things all the time, and make their own rules, knowing very well that the current chapter of their lives may prove to be the most remarkable period of opportunity and exploration yet.
The capacity for growth and exhilaration on the part of this generation’s seniors can be described as “voracious.” Some continue to work; many have embarked on a second career or are becoming entrepreneurs. Millions travel all over the world to places they never thought they would ever want to see; many do volunteer work, or are concentrating on some unique endeavor, like writing the next great American novel. Some have taken up sky diving, or the ukulele. To be sure, these boomers and their parents are pursuing their bliss in one of myriad ordinary and extraordinary avenues: the concepts of venture, peril, chance, fortune, and luck are all applicable here.
The common thread, however, is the examination of traditional views and cultural issues on the part of these seniors. They question everything, and they love to learn--two of their most defining and outstanding characteristics, in fact. This group is largely composed of avid readers with open minds, savvy enough to know that there are many ways of becoming more knowledgeable about the world, aside from taking classes, which they continue to do. They are willing to alter their lives when they view it as necessary for their well-being and prosperity. The world is their oyster.
Many seniors are pursuing goals that are much different from the ones they sought in their younger years. At this point, some seek adventure in the form of personal fulfillment, realizing that it is finally time “to decide what I really want to do when I grow up.” And in coming to this realization, many have a desire to publically demonstrate a true understanding of community. Many are fortunate to have developed a positive worldview enabling them to enrich their lives through generosity and maturity.
This worldview would serve us all well.
Excerpt from her CSA Journal article, Don’t Stop Now: Adventure After 50, September 2009.)
Laraine Jablon, BA, MA, is a writer living in Nesconset, New York. She welcomes your thoughts. Lhjablon@gmail.com