Hope for late-bloomer Boomers: Success as an Encore Act

Retro Senior Man writerA  piece from the New York Times should be encouraging for any older readers interested in Encore Acts: Finding Success Well Past the Age of Wunderkind. Flagged as an article on “Retiring” it profiles several late bloomers who discovered creative or literacy success only after retiring from their day jobs.

It starts with a Queen’s resident, Lucille Shulklapper, who was a teacher, homemaker and mother of three and didn’t pursue a literary career until she retired in her late 50s. While she occasionally wrote a bit for herself, only when she retired did she start to write poems and short stories seriously. She published her first book of poetry in 1996, at age 60. Now 80, she has published four small editions, with a fifth in development.

The article goes on to suggest that the idea that you have fabulous success in business or the Arts early in life “is becoming increasingly outdated.” Late bloomers are “not only having successes later in life, but blooming in areas they never expected” although they may not be making millions at these new pursuits. “Still, many people are discovering that the latter part of their lives can be just as (or even more) rewarding creatively, emotionally and spiritually.”

The article then recaps some of the more familiar examples of success in later life,such as Harland Sanders (Colonel Sanders!) starting Kentucky Fried Chicken in his 60s, or Frank McCourt’s receipt of the Pulitzer Prize for Angela’s Ashes at 66.

The piece also quotes gerontology professor Karl Pillemer, who interviewed more than 1,500 people 70 or older for Cornell University’s Legacy Project and found many who achieved a life dream or embarked on a worthwhile endeavour after age 65.

The piece also talks about retirees who took up musical instruments late in life, if only for their own enjoyment. I can think of a few such examples in my own circle.

All in all, an inspiring piece for those who interested in Encore Acts.

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