I wonder if it’s shyness- whether Sasha and I should be asking him more about what he’s doing. But Mile’s history makes those questions feel loaded, or patronizing, and anyway, we’re in our fifties- do people even ask what we’re “doing” anymore? Hasn’t that already been decided?

Jennifer Egan Candy House

For my friends who are in their 50’s or beyond: Do we know what we are doing?

Ok- loaded question. But do we tend to write-off people who are older, and assume they have nothing going on in their lives? Or that everything is same old, same old?

While I admit I don’t lead the most exciting life, I like to think that I have a life– that I do things, that I try new things, that I still have lots of innings left in the ball game. I hope that people want to ask what I am “doing” because I hope that I am still “doing”.

But do we stop trying as we get older?

Do we stick to the same patterns and routines?

Do you not ask your friends and acquaintances what they are doing because you already know the answer?

Discuss:

72 thoughts on “What are we doing?

  1. The only time people ask me what I’m doing is when they are really asking if I have a “real job” again. I do think it is a mix after 50. I know a lot of of people who have been traveling more and having more adventures, but I also know people who feel like stuff like that was for younger people.

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  2. It feels like the 50+ crowd, with older kids or as an empty nester, is often reflecting on hindsight and more ready or willing to push beyond comfort zones.

    I’m doing that, although at a snail’s pace, mainly because habits and old patterns have a stronger grip than I want to admit.

    I’d like to say I know what I’m doing most of the time but the reality is, I am more often than not stumbling into foreign territory, which brings me back to the comfort zone thing. I’m in it! 😉

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  3. I think most over 50s are pretty boring, at least compared to the previous years. But the previous years were exhausting and stressful so I’m good with chilling! I like not feeling like I have to do a lot of things. This is new, though .it didn’t start until actual menopause at 55. That’s when I started being comfortable staying home. It’s a cultural lie that you have to keep doing and going like a younger person even when you’d rather not.

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    1. It’s not about being younger…it’s about being you. I don’t want my husband trying the new style of tight and above the ankle dress pants…to me, that’s trying to be young. But, we shouldn’t be scared to try new things. I can’t imagine if I’d thought 5 years ago that I was too old to blog…something new and foreign.

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  4. I am 75. I am still doing. Had an interview this week with City Hall to sit on an advisory council with the mayor. However I think the largest percentage of seniors over the age of 75 stop doing. Possibly because it is expected of them to stop doing. I think the elderly, and I guess that means me, need to be reminded to look for the passion in their life. I think it’s passion that disappears.

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  5. I am 63 and have a group of friends that are about ten years young and some who are around my age. It seems like we are all still working and actively traveling, participating in various physical activities as well as various types of activism. It doesn’t really dawn on me that we are considered “older now”. I do have some retired friends who are more sedentary, having worked at stressful jobs most of their lives, and I can understand why they prefer to chill now. I took off work this summer, but was anxious to get back to work again, as I don’t feel like I have enough to fill my life yet to stop working.

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  6. I’m your age so we are on the “wrong side of 50” but I try to lead a life. I go places and see things (Convid has stiffled that to a point). My parents feel that is a waste of money. Speaking of, my parents have sat around for 30 years watching news networks. They consider this a life well lived. I dont agree and tried to convince them to go to a different seafood shack (they live on the coast of FLA) each week for lunch. Try some place new – nope. I feel having a life is a matter of opinion and perspective. Im not saying go climb a mtn, but if you enjoy restaurants, why not try a new one.

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  7. There’s a lot that influences “doing” after 50. No one size fits all answer, but I suppose if you feel happy and content with your personal level of doing then should I, or anyone else, question your choices?

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    1. My problem with the quote is the implication that old equates to complacent. Everyone can do their own thing, but we deserve the right to be asked “what’s new”. Just because I’m 58 doesn’t mean I haven’t tried anything new, or out if my particular comfort zone

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  8. The answer to your question is NO! Absolutely not! First of all, only a small percentage of the population can actually afford to retire in their 50’s. And those who can afford to retire early usually continue to work because they enjoy working. But to assume one’s age suddenly transforms them from vital to boring is absurd. Most doctors and lawyers continue to work into their 70’s. As a teacher, I can tell you that it’s rare that anyone can afford retirement until they are well into their 60’s. And the ones who can, stay because they love their jobs.
    I felt I retired too early at 62. I would have continued until 70 but I only retired because my daughter in law was put on bed rest when she was 7 months pregnant with her second child. She and my son had a 20 month old and I only retired to help care for my grandson since my daughter in law needed to stay off her feet. I was busier than usual ( physically) dancing around with my 20 month old grandson . To prevent getting super bored I did what any teacher would do, I taught my grandson to read. Before he was two he learned his letters and numbers, and by two and a half he was reading everything in sight. Once things settled down and my daughter in law was back on her feet, I took art classes, I wrote a curriculum for a non profit organization’s poetry program and I was hired by the school board to go into schools and give workshops on how to teach spoken word poetry. I continued to write grants and was paid by a local college to present these grants to teachers. I became politically active again and was involved with Women’s issues, environmental groups, and was busier than ever. The only thing that slowed me down was cancer. And then I readjusted my life to doing what I could still physically accomplish. The pandemic may have isolated me due to cancer treatment, but I was still doing zoom meetings and involved with my grandchildren via FaceTime. I continued to be active in my local political groups via zoom. As long as my brain worked I worked too!

    In America there is certainly ageism. This country doesn’t give people over 60 credit for their wisdom or experience. People in their 50’s to me are still youthful physically. It isn’t until about 65 that aging seems to slow you down a bit. Many of my friends began to travel more when they retired and didn’t have the constraints of a full time job anymore.

    Boring people were likely boring in their youth. It’s a state of mind. Rather like negative people. They are miserable no matter what age they are. Yes, it is true that one’s physicality begins to change in one’s 50’s. But their spirit? No way. In fact once you become a grandparent you are busier than ever. If people took the time to see and hear older members of society they could learn a great deal from them. How on earth can anyone think that my contemporaries who helped end wars, promoted more equality to women and minorities, a generation that transformed rock music into an art form, would suddenly become stagnant or boring. No way. Peace love and rock and roll you all. ✌️❤️🎸 Could Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, or Joan Baez , Bruce Springsteen, Gloria Steinem become boring? NO WAy!

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  9. From the responses I’ve read, none of your readers feel that way. I don’t either. I find that younger (teens and early 20’s) family members seem to think this way; but that’s probably because they’re more focused on themselves and their friends. They’re used to older people asking them what’s going on in their lives and they haven’t discovered asking that of older generations…yet. One of these days, they’ll ask that of others, too…both older and younger, and they’ll be surprised when fewer and fewer ask about them. I remember thinking when I was a little younger that most older people talk a lot about their ailments and diseases. I didn’t want to hear about that stuff. Today, it doesn’t bother me so much. Wisdom, ailments and a whole boatload of other stuff (good and not so good) comes with age! 🙂 Mona

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    1. I’m ok with a little of the ailments talk. I was whining about my hernia acting up because of all the bending I did the other day helping my daughter set up her room

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  10. Maybe, and I can only speak for myself, as we grow older, we become less concerned about impressing others. This can create the perception that we aren’t doing as much as we used to. My life is changing since my children are getting older and going through life changes. I’m still active with all of that, but I’m less interested in what I used to be and more interested in new things, such as helping others outside of my immediate social circle. I’m sure it varies from person to person, but I feel like I’m just getting started.

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  11. There is still so much of life to live, so no I have not stopped doing! It just changes as we get older. I may be retired, not sure yet. I got another job after the one lady that I was taking care of died, but now the family decided to move the one lady I was taking care of into a nursing home, because she was starting to need round the clock care. So am out of a job again. My husband says its up to me whether I want to continue.
    I want to spend more time writing, but I want to try new things as well. Love how my sisters and I have been spending more time together now that our children are grown, and mostly out of the house.
    My 82 year old dad is retired, but he has not stopped. He golfs, he walks 2 miles each morning, he has taken over doing the flower beds because my Mom’s knees are just too bad for her to bend down. My mom started to paint a few years ago and loves it! Never too old to learn something new!

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  12. I have tried new things after 50. Including joining a swim team, diving off the blocks and entering a swim meet! Then I got asked to speak by swim teams about swim parenting due to my parenting tips on a swim publication — that I got the nerve to submit to after age 50. I am much more cautious though in other ways like driving on freeways. Moving away from California a year and a half ago has put me way out of my comfort zone. I think I don’t know what I’m doing, but maybe trying to establishing new routines and friendships.

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    1. With age does come a certain amount of wisdom and caution…which is fine. And it’s ok to not want to do certain things. But I don’t like people not doing something strictly because they feel too old

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  13. I have a smidgen of friends in their 50’s that like to do different things (prior to meeting my wife I was pretty one note, I tended to go to the movies in a nutshell), but a lot of my friends are either pushing 70 or in their early 70’s unfortunately those people are kind of stuck in holding patterns with either ailments or depression, very rarely are they telling me about adventures. Idk…my friendships are far and few, often I wish I could meet and hang with new people but I guess the comraderie I get here in WP will have to do. I know I’m rambling..guess this post slightly bummed me out. 🫤

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  14. I’m 82 and am learning to draw and play the glockenspiel, a little bit each day for something new. That’s in addition to being the IT person in the family for our multiple computers and iPads and iPhones. And, of course, publishing a blog post every day and exercising regularly. It works for me.

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  15. It really is dependent on the person and their influences. Where I live, and the people I socialize with, doing is absolutely the norm, even into 80s and 90s. My parents and aunts/uncles seem quite stuck in a rut, in my view.

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  16. I actually find myself, here in my 50s, more adventurous and willing to try new things. I think there’s something about middle age that makes us realize life is too short and we’re in a better place to try new things because the kids are gone, etc. So far, this is honestly my favorite time period of life.

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  17. You have so much time to live on life 😍😍. Do whatever makes you happy. Do the things which you have been holding back because of people’s opinions. Do everything which you once dreamed as a child. 😍

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  18. Nah, I know way too may people that are more productive and active in their later years than people in their 30’s and 40’s. It’s all about the mindset. I think people should disrupt their thinking and assumptions too. Older = active and productive. Oh, yes, I do have a small bias as I turn 50 next year. 😁

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  19. Hey, haven’t you heard? 50’s is the new 30’s? So relax. Whether others perceive us as boring or adventurous, let’s just keep doing what makes us happy and fulfilled. So chuck the labels, live your best life and dance like you’re JLo in heels 👠 and a skimpy outfit 💃 🥰 🤣

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