Is There More To Life Than Donuts And Bingo?
Tim Carpenter does.
Tim, the radio host of Experience Talks and the 2011 Winner of the James Irvine Leadership Award, also believes there must be more for people than bingo and donuts in their later years. He tells the story, of course he does – he comes from an Irish Catholic family where storytelling was a competitive sport. The older people told better stories so he sat at that end of the dinner table.
“Retirement is like college. It is a launching period. Free time. Time to ask yourself, ‘OK, what do I do now?‘”
Tim grinned at his co conversationalist, Mark Freedman, the author of Encore: Finding Work That Matters In The Second Half Of Life at a session organized by Rohit Burman entitled The Big Shift: The Velocity Of Change In America’s Aging Society.
“An acre of time.” I love that phrase.
What would you put in this acre of time?
They spoke about developing buildings around programs that get people out doing stuff. Including college level programs and workforce development for artists, building an artist colony. Asking the question – what if you could live here among artists?
“Age is a time to bloom, a time of great fertility. A time to celebrate their best work when they are ‘over the hill’. People think genius happens early in life but actually many artists were late bloomers such as Cezanne. Priorities are affected by the sense of mortality which people experience as a compression of time, a heightened sense of time left to live. Relationships deepen, spirituality attracts. ” said Marc. “It is the trifecta of mortality, longevity and urgency.”
“The process of becoming something is more interesting.” Tim said. “Suzanne, a woman in her mid 60’s, single mom with 2 kids, was ‘old before her time‘. She attended my writing class and wrote a 12 page screenplay about the challenges and needs of aging called Bandida. I remember thinking to myself ‘please don’t stink’. But it was good. And we made it into a film that was eventually shown by Ira Glass on This American Life.
This answers the question ‘Where does funding have impact?’ Suzanne is a new person, a mentor and teacher to others. This is why we need optimism, something Marc often speaks of.”
Marc shook his head. “I worry that we feed the notion of magical reinvention, that there is a genius inside waiting to pop out. What is a more realistic vision for us? Perhaps a reintegration of preexisting goals and ideas, more an extension of what you already are.”
“There is a need for arts in the schools to build these skills early, to get art experiences and to connect older artists with kids,” said Tim.
“What about that gap year we have at 18 and 19? What if we had a disruptive creative period of time in our 50’s. It could be a period of renewal focused on the arts. Could we build in a leap year, a gap year. In the UK, 200,00 people are grey gappers.” Marc smiled. “You could have an encore career, a second career after 50.”
“How do you get one of those?” asked Tim.
Marc said, “We need the arts to give a realistic vision to this new phase of life. There is a lack of focus on this time. There is a second group between midlife and elderly old age with no arts avenue. Their challenge is to reimagine the shape of living.”
They closed with this:
“60 is the new 60. Live your legacy.”
About the Author: Hoong Yee Lee Krakauer writes about how to be a nimble nonprofit, make life creative and make a difference at www.hoongyee.com.
She is also the Executive Director of the Queens Council on the Arts. Hoong Yee can be found surfing in the Rockaways whenever there are waves.
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