All week, NBC has been running promos about Al Roker's 60th birthday, to be celebrated on air on August 22. Now, I like Al Roker. And I like birthday celebrations. And I even see the tie-in to Hoda Kotb's 50th birthday celebration. But 60? Really?
All week long, NBC ran a promo featuring Mr. Roker telling us he wasn't interested in retiring. Well, I would think not. At 60, he hasn't reached the national average retirement age (62) and is, if not young, barely past midlife for television. While Walter Cronkite faced mandatory retirement and left the news at 64, he did specials until he was 90. Mike Wallace and Andy Rooney were over 90. Larry King is well into his 70s and going strong. Barbara Walters left The View in her 80s. The list goes on.
It made sense to spend a lot of time on Ms. Kotb's 50th. This is a marker birthday, while 60 is not. At 50, men and women enter into a new phase of life. They tend to shift from a focus on achievement to a focus on making meaning, according to Jung. For women especially, this is a time of significant change.
In interviews for a book I'm completing, I've spoken with fifty women over fifty, all of whom are active, busy, fulfilled people. More than half the group is over sixty, and a few are in their seventies and eighties. The things they've accomplished past sixty leave me breathless. Sally spends part of her year volunteering in Cambodia. Donna has created a non-profit and a high-level conference, coordinates volunteers for her local TEDx and is working on a new business venture. Alice relocated to New York City in her seventies and has created a successful consulting practice. Jeannette, also well past sixty-five, has a new social media consulting practice that's getting too big for her to manage. And there are more.
So, there's much to come past 60 - and 65 - and 70. Mr. Roker, I look forward to seeing what you're up to then.