Beautiful People in the Second Half of Life
Becoming part of the Encore movement has truly been a gift to me. I am experiencing and understanding the beauty of aging in new and significant ways, and I want to share that experience and understanding with you.
I recently attended the national Encore.org conference in San Francisco and almost to a person, everyone there was over 50. Who knew that I would come away from a gathering of more than 400 people in their second half of life totally excited about the possibility of my own aging?
The amazing fact was that whether it was a keynote speaker or the person standing in the elevator next to me, I was surrounded by people who seemed to have tapped into some essential truth that literally made them beautiful. Let me give you three examples:
Beautiful Person #1
The first beautiful person was a Purpose Prize winner who had spent nine years in prison after being arrested as part of the Black Panther Movement. He said what he had learned is to translate pain into personal power and later he founded a theater company for youth in Harlem. He and the students he brought with him to the conference all glowed with good intentions and a particularly striking young man in the group opened the conference rapping to the theme, “What we do now will matter forever!”
Beautiful Person #2
The second beautiful person was a kind and thoughtful man who had been an executive coach for thirty years. He warmly shared the three questions that came up consistently in the various life stages of his clients:
1. What is my place? In other words, where should I chose to live?
2. What is my purpose? Or, what should I do with my life based upon my uniqueness?
3. Who are my people? This is another way of asking who do I want to take on my life journey with me.
While I wouldn't have thought of it, place, purpose, and people are the essential and recurring questions in life.
Beautiful Person #3
The third beautiful person was a passionate woman whose mother and sister had been the only two in a very large family who had survived the Holocaust. This woman’s advice for finding purpose in your life was to identify what you are passionate about and what makes you the most angry, and then find a way to combine the two.
She told the story of a Latino youth she worked with who was passionate about salsa dancing. What made him the most angry was "old, white women" who were disrespectful to him and his friends when they walked down the street. The beautiful woman telling this story arranged for this young man to teach salsa dancing to older white women at a local community center. As you can imagine, the intergenerational pairing was transforming for everyone.
After the conference I was left with this question, “How can we train ourselves to look past the stereotypes of middle and old age to really see the beautiful people in their second half of life who surround us?”