Writing A New Third Act – Part Of The New Story

Not A Time To Go Quietly, A Time To Celebrate Higher Ground

By George Cappannelli

If you weren’t born yesterday and you haven’t been snoozing with Ichabod Crane in Sleepy Hollow then you know we are in a time unlike any before it.  It a time marked by a lot of chaos, confusion, obfuscation and regression.

According to a number of experts one of the reasons this is such a unique time is that in addition to all of the other substantial challenges we face, the ‘graying’ of our population has particular implications for all of us and most immediately for those of us who are older GenXers, Boomers and Elders and younger people who will soon inherit the future.  Many of these experts also agree that the choices we make today in addressing this Demographic Revolution that will eventually see 50% of our population over 50 for the first time in history, will have an enormous impact not only the 150 million Americans who are or soon will soon fall into this demographic group, but on the lives of all Americans.

Of course, having thus far failed to uncover significant solutions to most of the other critical  and systemic challenges we face as a nation, it is not surprising that many in our government, institutions and businesses and many of us in the general are uninformed on the aging of our population and hence unprepared for both the significant consequences and remarkable opportunities that lie ahead.

Of course, a part of the problem also lies in the fact that as a species, we’ve never been in this situation of having so many elders alive at the same time before.  So there is no blueprint or script that describes what millions of us here in the US and billions more around the planet of us are supposed to do with this additional time – in some cases substantial amount of time – we are inheriting.  Surely there must be some purpose in the grand design beyond a lot of leisure time activities – something that calls on our wisdom and experience and is of genuine consequence that requires the presence of such an inordinately large number of elders on the planet.

As a result, it is clear that those of us who are 50 and older have come to the end of the territory described in Acts One (Youth) and Two (Maturity) of the Human Drama.  Now the question becomes, what can we do about it?  We and a number of other experts and advocates for people in the second half of life believe we would be wise to craft a new Third Act that defines new pathways and priorities and new use of our resources, talents and time.   In short, it’s time we contribute this Third Act to the New Story.

There are other choices, of course.  We can, as too many are doing today, pretend we can keep doing in this new act what we did in the first two acts.   We can also hope someone will discover that illusive ‘fountain of youth’ and allow us to keep tripping merrily along on this path of obsession with youth and aversion to age.  Personally, however, we would not want to bet the farm on either of these choices!

So what do we suggest? Find a way to come to Higher Ground.  Gain the long view as they say and remember that we do not want to keep repeating the same mistakes in the future that we have in the past.  We need to make new, more sane, sustainable, conscious, creative, compassionate and constructive choices.  And that is precisely what Higher Ground will support us in doing.