I find it odd that so many older writers stick to young female lovelies having exciting issues with young male lovelies, ranging from outdated through unrealistic to frankly lurid. Talk about mining your past – and heavily salting the mine! It is usually younger writers who write older characters, and they stick with stereotypes which are superficially engaging to their younger readers, but leave older readers feeling caricatured. And yes, we have been.
The irony is that we baby-boomers are out there, in our millions. 1946 to 1964 saw the biggest surge of babies born in all history. So, hands up, baby boomers. Are we down and out? Finished and over, relegated to the scrap heap, existing not as individuals but as attachments to more interesting characters? Long past making our own errors, and fit only to give sage / caustic / pithy advice?
Are we HELL. Older boomers recently stopped working and are relishing retirement as a time to explore, start new hobbies, learn new skills. Many still working are branching out into new and exciting directions in their careers. Some are falling in love (sometimes for the first time in their lives) and ricocheting around making some crashing newbie errors. For that matter, some are falling in love all over again with their spouses, and rediscovering why they loved them in the first place. And some are, yes of course, totally absorbed in their grandchildren, and proving to be the coolest grandparents ever.
I KNOW this. Not just because I write in the age-group—I’m in the age-group. I am a baby boomer, and so are my most interesting friends. They are awesome; vibrant interesting people cycling in races, changing careers, studying for fun, meeting people of all ages, uprooting and moving to new countries, re-inventing themselves. You’d almost think life was crammed with new stuff to discover and every day was a new opportunity. (Guess what. You’d be right.)
You can keep your fifty-is-the-new-forty, too, thanks. That’s for those clinging desperately to youth without realizing the best is yet to come. Fifty is just fine as fifty. Sixty is the re-invented sixty. Seventy-something brings challenges, not rocking-chairs. Stop labelling us, kid. We could show you a thing or three. The colleague of indeterminate age, with an unexpectedly sizzling private life? One of us. The neighbour about to go on an activity or research holiday that would completely daunt you? Yup. Half the actors, actresses, singers, rock-groups, journalists, in the headlines? Not just the obvious ones. Look past the concealing makeup. See?
It is an incredibly good age to be. The kids are grown and gone. The limitations of old age are still tiny foothills on the horizon. This is our time, our Indian summer, and every day, every minute, counts and is to be savoured. Something to look forward to, if you’re younger. Something to enjoy, while you’re here. And make it something to look back on, when you really do finally hit the foothills of old age!
It’s quite possible those foothills have their own excitement and challenges. Old age is, after all, fifteen years older than you are. I’ll let you know what I find, when I get there.