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I am 63, recently retired, and I am finding that nothing much really interests me.

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

I am 63, recently retired, and I am finding that nothing much really interests me. This is not what I thought the third act of my life was going to be like.


~ Barnaby


Barnaby,

First, congrats on retiring (and living to 63). And now the bad news: retirement and hitting your sixties is, in my estimation, not a third act. Quite the opposite, the golden years for most people is the first act of an entirely new story. Yup, freedom 55 and that effortless final act we’re supposed to have is mostly fantasy; an optimistic ending sold to us by banks and financial planners to calm the narrative nerves of an aging body and brain.

Hitting sixty and beyond is the start of a story as complex and challenging as the one you began in your teens and twenties. We all know how that went: It was about figuring out what you were going to do for your life’s work, starting long relationships, perhaps having kids, not having kids, choosing where to live, etc. And now comes the kind of same story, only the variables have changed.


Don’t be disheartened. Sure there are worries about money, friends getting sick, your own ailments, realizing failures, becoming invisible and a certain ending, which none of us can escape but it’s the start of something new. It’s okay if you’re not feeling it at the moment. Remember, you’re just five minutes in; the title sequence is just coming to an end and it probably doesn’t feel like much of a story. Let me explain.


While we often think that drama and our stories are founded on the hero wanting something or having clear goals, I’ll suggest another tact. Like a toddler edging towards a tantrum, I think it’s natural for stories and their action to begin with time spent ruminating over what we don’t want rather than trying to articulate exactly what it is that we want. Sometimes it is easier to declare the negative rather than list the affirmative.


Try it: “I don’t want.”


Barnaby, I am guessing that these words slide off your tongue in the “nothing much interests me” circumstances of your living. That’s okay. It’s a signpost of not knowing, of being ungrounded, of having routine disrupted. It’s like the first close-up of Dustin Hoffman’s Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate or the final scene of Shiv Roy and Tom in the last episode of Succession.

If you watch closely, both the film and the HBO series show beginnings founded upon not wanting, prompted by big change. Hoffman, freshly graduated from college, doesn’t want to be like his parents and their friends while Shiv is driving off into a new beginning– also the series’ ending– only knowing what she didn’t want, (which she climatically articulated moments before).


Like Shiv’s story of life with her domineering father’s last years on earth rabidly controlling Waystar RoyCo and his family, your working adult story is over. While you're not driving off in a limo with a man you may hate or love, the sentiment is clearly aligned with Shiv’s: you don't know what you want. At least for the moment.


But hold tight. A new series or a movie for you is about to begin! This is exciting because with it will come a change in attitude and a world that will hold your interest like that of a twenty-year-old. This is about new people or new activities or a new location. It's the business of finding yourself all over again. It's also the business of discovering there is something you want and something, lo and behold, that interests you.


For now, hold steady, a catalyst will come. Something, someone, some news, some inspiration is going to start things up. While it won't be Mrs. Robinson asking for a drive home from Ben Braddock's graduation part, it will, I hope, be just as impactful.


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