Monday, June 6, 2011

Life in the Second Act

On May 19, 2011, I began life’s Second Act.

I turned 50.

A lot of my peers are afraid of turning 50, but I’m excited to make it this far. Some of my other friends, due to illness, accidents or disasters, never knew the privilege of walking the planet for half a century.

Now I’m an official Golden Girl, excited about what lies ahead. I plan to live to 100 because I have much to do, stories to write, places to explore.

I’m not alone in embracing the second act of life. I find myself in good company.
  • At age 50 Joy Adamson wrote Born Free.
  • When she was 51, Harriet Monroe founded Poetry Magazine.
  • At age 52, Ludwig Van Beethoven composed his Ninth Symphony, Isak Dinesen published Out of Africa, Pytor Tchaikovsky composed The Nutcracker, and Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged.
  • Seuss wrote The Grinch Who Stole Christmas at age 54 and Johanna Spyri wrote Heidi.
  • At age 55 Alex Haley published Roots.
  • Handel was 56 when he composed the Messiah in 24 days and so was Mary O’Hara when she wrote My Friend Flicka and Nikolay Rmisky-Korsakov when he composed “The Flight of the Bumble Bee."
  • At age 57 James Joyce finished Finnegans Wake, Anna Sewell wrote Black Beauty and Jonathan Swift published Gulliver’s Travels. 
  • Robinson Crusoe was published by Daniel Defoe when he was 59 (one of my favorite classics).

  • Agatha Christie wrote The Mousetrap at age 61.
  • At age 64 Oscar Hammerstein II wrote the lyrics to The Sound of Music.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder didn’t publish her first novel until age 65.
  • When he was 69 years old, Noah Webster published An American Dictionary for the English Language. He worked on it for 22 years and it became one of the best-selling books of all time.
  • At the beginning of his seventh decade, Nicolaus Copernicus published De revolutionibus obium coelestium (On the Revolution of the Celestial Spheres), claiming that the Sun , not the Earth, is at the center of the cosmos; E.B. White wrote The Trumpet of the Swan.
  • At age 76, Grandma Moses began to paint.
  • Thomas Wilder was 77 when he wrote Theophilus North.
  • At the age of 83, Winston Churchill published the last of four volumes of his ambitious A History of the English-Speaking Peoples and Igor Stravinsky composed his Requiem Canticles.
  • Sophocles was 87 when he wrote his play Philoctetes.
  • Michaelangelo, at age 88, crafted what some deem his most compelling sculpture, the Rondandini Pieta, an old man holding Christ.
  • In their 90s, George Bernard Shaw wrote Shakes Versus Shave: A Puppet Play (at age 92), Leopoli Stokowski signed a six-year recording contract (age 94), and Mother Jones, union organizer, wrote her autobiography (she was 95).
  • And (do I included this one?) at age 99, Father Abraham circumcised himself.
This list is far from exhaustive. Many other people in their golden years not only wrote books, but started companies (Colonel Sanders was 65 when he began selling KFC franchises), became president (Ronald Reagan was 69), and climbed mountains (Ichijirou was 100 when he climbed Mt. Fuji).

I'm thrilled for the privilege to enjoy this season of my life. How about you? What do you have planned for your second act?


  1. What a major encouragement, Karla. Super post! Thank you, thank you, thank you! <3

  2. Excellent post, Karla! I had no idea Laura Ingalls Wilder was 65 before she was a published author. Wow!

  3. Happy birthday, Karla, and thanks for the hope! :)

  4. FAntastic post til I got to the last one. We don't have to do that, do we? I hope not, not sure I'd know what to do. OUCH!