Rethinking middle age

In a recent blog post, we shared some quotes from Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s lovely, little book Gift from the Sea.

We thought about one of those quotes recently when we read an interview with Laura Cartensen in the October 11, 2011, issue of The Dallas Morning News.

In 1955, Lindbergh asked: “For is it not possible that middle age can be looked upon as a period of second flowering, second growth, even a kind of second adolescence?”

Today, Cartensen, director of the Stanford Center of Longevity and author of A Long Bright Future, reminds us that middle age is not the same as it used to be, pointing out that death came at 19 or 20 during most of human evolution. By 1900, people in the United States had a life expectancy of 47. By the end of the century, the number had increased to 77.

Many people today are missing opportunities because they think of themselves as old when they’re really still somewhere in the middle of their life, Cartensen stresses.

“A lot of people think 65-years-plus are just the leftovers, as if it’s all luck and chance, but that’s not true. Think about what you want to do. People can have goals until almost the time they need to think about dying. But that’s very late now.”

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