In 1946, the year the first baby boomers were born, the average life expectancy was 66.7 years. You didn’t have much time to cram it all in, or even think much about your options before it was all over. Immediately after high school, my father enlisted in the service, met my mom, got married, worked until the day he retired, bought an RV, and worried about his finances on a daily basis until the day he died in 2010. That was what you did back then.
I went to college, got married, had a kid, got divorced, worked in the restaurant business until I met my second wife and had two more kids. I became a professional photographer, got divorced again, retired at 49, and took up yet another career as an artist before meeting my third wife. Two years ago, I became a whitewater raft guide and a ski instructor at the ripe old age of 58. My kids are grown, my mom has settled in a house near my brother, and I have at least another 30 or 40 years before I even start to slow down. Every yardstick my parents measured their success and progress by has absolutely no value to me as a guideline for what comes next, because no one in history has ever been where my generation is at before.
We are like the freshman class on the first day of high school, watching the “senior class” for clues on what to do and how to act. The trouble is, none of us want to be like the senior class, because there is a twenty year age difference between us. I have friends in their fifties who recently gave up everything they owned to buy and RV and hit the road. He is a doctor and she is an administrator, and after both lost their jobs, they decided to travel the country in search of seasonal employment to make ends meet. Half the people they’ve encountered so far are in their seventies and half are in their fifties. The seventy year-olds are living off social security and retirement savings, but the fifty year-olds are on the road out of necessity. Some have lost everything in this new economy except their RV’s, and the only work they can find is temporary. Others are on the road because after a lifetime spent pursuing a dream, they want to actually LIVE instead of just thinking about it, and do it now, before its too late.
But with thirty or forty extra years on their hands, it seems a great big question mark is hanging out there. What do we do next? Every phase of life up until this point has had a purpose, a routine, and map. Someone else has done it before us, so we know what to do when we get there ourselves. The seniors know more than the juniors, and the juniors know more than the sophomores, and if we want to be cool like the upperclassmen at fifty, then we need someone to watch, so we know what to do next.
Well we have some ideas about how to do that, starting with the turquoise 1969 Dodge Travco we just bought that will become the headquarters for a new TV series we plan to launch about baby boomers this spring that you will DEFINITELY want to stay tuned for.
Because if there’s one thing we know for sure, its that we ain’t your grandma’s AARP!