As our exploration of the imagery of the over 50s comes to a close, we got some insight from the experts who know them best – 50-somethings themselves
Back in the 90s, working on a hi-lo culture magazine, a colleague, ‘Bill’ was tasked to review Martin Amis’ new novel The Information, which was causing a bit of a stir at the time. Amis had got rid of his agent Pat Kavanagh, wife of his close friend Julian Barnes, and his new agent Andrew Wylie had achieved an advance of £500,000 for the novel, a hefty amount for a literary work with big words. ‘Bill’, faced with the kind of impossible deadline that for a young man was merely a dare, arrived in, exasperated, wired, excited, having read this bicep-building book in practically one sitting, declaring in mock-indignation “All night, coffee and sugar, just to find out that Martin Bloody Amis, the best writer of his generation takes five hundred pages to reveal The Information…that we are all going to die!”
Being a 20-something, it just didn’t make sense. Of course you’re going to die. But really? 500 pages? It’s been said that in your 30s you’re too busy cleaning up the mess of your 20s so you don’t have time to notice. But by your 40s The Information alarm starts ringing. By your 50s, it’s written into physical signs – your hairline goes one direction, your gut in another. The Information starts shaping your choices, your decisions. The Information isn’t really mortality, it’s having a heightened sense of time, an awareness and sensitivity to time. The truth is, The Information is the brief you have been waiting for – the brief that gives you perfect clarity.
We asked some 50-somethings to let us into some ‘secret knowledge’ they have discovered since becoming 50.
Never Stop Moving. The Mason Dixon Line is the apex of the trail. Twenty-five miles north is York, Pa. Twenty-five miles south sits Baltimore, MD. The man in the helmet and tight bike shorts told me that he was 70 years old. He had just ridden 40 miles with another 10 to go until he was back home.
How do you stay so healthy, so good looking, I asked? He said, “I never stop moving”.
On America’s bike trails, on our rivers, along our running paths, in our pools, at our gyms and even in our boxing rings exists a new-old group. People who are older then seventy but still are going strong are the people who never stop moving.
This summer I assigned myself a project, Never Stop Moving. I admire these “retirees” who look at the golden years as an opportunity for continued self-improvement. Like my subjects, I never want to stop moving.
Jade, 50-Something Teacher
I am radical Jade.
I am 56.
I am a teacher.
Being in my 50s has made me realise that I have yet so much I would like to accomplish in my life. I have made more realistic goals to achieve each year for myself. I have discovered that I like to make a difference in my life with my family and friends. Spending more time with them if possible. This year I have taken up the challenge to be an event organiser for a social group which I thoroughly enjoy. I would never have dreamed of doing this when I was in my 40s.
I’m 55. I’ve waited all my life for a full and fulfilled sex life and here it is. I’ve worked through my youthful insecurities, I’ve figured what to avoid and what to seek and I’ve found the confidence that I always envied in others but which I now realize was only for show. And with confidence comes quantity, quality and downright dirty uninhibited sex. Kids – what do they know? Not much but they’ll learn! I know because I’m teaching them….
Get into the 21st Century
Keep fit – walk, jog or dance
Embrace the wrinkles
Have fun with your children
Don’t bracket over 50s as Senior!
A grad student was telling me a few weeks ago how her generation was the last to experience the world before the internet. A world before the memory previously filed in our heads could be stored externally, in ‘meat-free’ search engines and databases. And then I read an article in the newspaper with someone saying the same thing, a young person wondering what it was like, what ‘time’ was like, in the age before the interruptions of cellphones, smartphones and the internet. Or at least I think I read this article? But then again maybe I didn’t? Maybe it’s a memory collage? Over 50, there are so many memory layers, short-term and long-term, that get mashed. Confusing, mildly annoying but also weirdly liberating.
There are 5 ages of man, not 7:
Gaga – Lager – Saga – Aga – and then back to Gaga! I guess I’m still at the lager stage!