THE SAG HARBOR EXPRESS: Growing Up at 50: Do We Have To?
Growing Up at 50: Do We Have To?
This week Sag Harbor will play a role in the national discussion on aging with the publication of “Between a Rock and a Hot Place” by Harper Collins.
It’s a lesson-filled, 304-page, funhouse twisting up any lingering baby boomer delusion that 50 is the new 30.
Written in large part in 2008 on Madison Street by “Confessions of a Shopaholic” screenwriter and “Lucky Ducks” director Tracey Jackson, the author addresses the notion “teeth in a jar is a frightful thought for many boomers.”
“While we’re not quite ready for that, we can see our parents were a lot more grown-up than we are,” she said. “We look at them at our age [like Ozzie Nelson, above, at 55 in 1961] and they look a lot older. We’re still dressing like Charlie Brown.”
In coming to terms with dying parents, kids off at college, workplace ageism, Jackson says boomers are finding themselves ill-suited for many of the challenges ahead: “We prepared ourselves for what we thought our lives would be like from college to 50, we put a game plan in place and we went for it, but there’s no real plan from 50 to 80. No one taught us what it was going to be like to be healthy and wanting to stay active; we’re not a generation looking to retire and go to Florida.”
The book deals with the generational shift in our perceptions of age and fitness, Jackson noting, “Tight abs was not a phrase my grandmother had ever heard. And even if she had, her response would likely have been, ‘Who needs that when you have a girdle?’”
While poking holes in all sorts of stay-young-forever follies, Jackson suggests the real purpose of the book is to help people embrace the fact they’re over 50 and “make the next 30 years really count.”
“To put it in perspective, in 1870 only three percent of Americans were over 65,” she added.
“By 2025, the year I turn 65, there will be close to 70 million people over the age of 65 in this country. That’s larger than the population of France and close to a third of our population.”
“Getting there has clearly gotten easier,” Jackson continued. “But how we get there and our quality of life depends largely on how well we take care of ourselves.”
Believing we’re anywhere close to 30 probably won’t help.