I just learned of a new book Old Man on Campus: A middle-aged engineer blunders into medicine, goes back to college at 58, and becomes a physician assistant by Barry Brownstein
It’s an inspirational story about finding a new passion in later life and having the nerve to pursue it. The author reveals both the hardships of returning to college and having to keep up with those half his age, and the humor he came upon along the way.
His story is a reminder that it’s never too late to make an important life change. These days, that’s an important reality to hold onto for many of us in the 40-something, 50-something, or 60-something zone who recognize that the old way of entering retirement is fast becoming obsolete. We need new passions, and the courage to follow them.
Old Man on Campus is also an illustration that may be useful on another front. If you have been working on your life story, you may also want to consider whether you have one major experience to focus on. Did you plunge into new and unknown territory at some point in your life? Is there a major story behind that? Did you switch careers because of a passion that ignited you and then master the practical part of it to find success and fulfillment? Did you have a few laughs along the way, or is it at least one of those “someday we’ll look back on this and it will all seems funny” times?
Remember, writing your life story can be approached in many different ways. You certainly can cover the full terrain of childhood through today. Or you can take a slice-of-life approach and focus on one major, compelling experience. Is that the direction that may be right for you?
– Kevin Quirk, personal historian and ghostwriter of memoirs and autobiographies, has been helping people of all ages and backgrounds tell the most important stories of their lives for 18 years. He is the author of Your Life Is a Book And It’s Time To Write It.