To Correct the Past


They promised a world of total pleasure. There was only one thing you couldn't have—your thirtieth birthday.

Sound like science fiction?

It was. The 1976 movie, Logan’s Run, was set in an idyllic future that suffered only one drawback: your life must end when you turned 30.

I’m old enough to remember 1965 and the free speech movement at UC Berkeley, when student Jack Weinberg said, “We don’t trust anyone over 30.”

Now, on the far side of 30 myself, I’m wary of anyone under 30.

The under-30 crowd acts as if the present exists to correct the past. Like Mark Zuckerberg, as an example, who made his first billion while still in his twenties.

According to researchers at the University of California, the average new business founder is 38. To my way of thinking, this means if you haven’t reached a leadership position in your field by 40—especially in business—you may as well swallow the pill.

That’s right—40 is the new 65.

Perhaps this is why, even more than every generation before them, today’s youth consider themselves enlightened. Gone and forgotten is any presumption that their elders might possess a thing called wisdom.

Consequently, marketers pretty much write off the 65+ demographic. They see this senescent group forming no major purchasing bloc, wielding no significant voting clout, and simply too set in their ways to be of much use at all.

And there are so many of these curmudgeonly codgers doddering about!

A Census Bureau Report released in March forecasts that within the next 15 years, all the baby boomers will have reached age 65, making one in five Americans senior citizens—up from one in seven last year.

There’s no question, of course, that major work can be achieved by the very young:

  • Orson Welles filmed Citizen Kane at 25
  • Herman Melville wrote Moby-Dick at 32
  • Mozart wrote his breakthrough Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-Flat-Major at 21

But let’s look at some equally compelling facts:

  • Forty-two per cent of Robert Frost’s anthologized poems were written after he was 50
  • Alfred Hitchcock made Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, Vertigo, North by Northwest and Psycho after he was 54
  • Mark Twain published Adventures of Huckleberry Finn at 49, and Daniel Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe at 58

George Bernard Shaw was almost 50 when his foundational play, Major Barbara, was staged. A year later, he posed for the photo above—as Rodin’s “Thinker.”

And there’s the testimony of no one less than Georges Clemenceau. Clemenceau, you’ll remember, was the French statesman and journalist who, as premier, was a major contributor to the Allied victory in World War I and a framer of the postwar Treaty of Versailles. He said:

         All that I know I learned after I was thirty.

My latest run-in with the whippersnappers (noun: an unimportant but offensively presumptuous person, especially a young one) started with a promotional email my company received last week from an event venue search and booking company.

“Woohoo!” the message began. “We've launched our new look for desktop!”

I wrote back: “Dear Kids: I don't read mail with "Woohoo" in the subject line. Grow up.”

In my next blog, “Pariah Words”


Read my newest book, Fat Guy in a Fat Boat, in print or Kindle from Amazon:

Also available is my e-book, A Light from Within, about the small moments of our lives that seem commonplace until they are examined under a creative lens.


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