Naples, FL is a weird place. Everyone I’ve seen here is over 50. It’s almost as if all the young people died… or they’re barricaded out at the airports. I’m not sure, but I do make sure enlist an elderly escort whenever I leave my hotel in order to not keep suspicion at bay. I don’t want to know what happened to the young’ns.
But the funny thing is, seeing this population of older people doesn’t make me fear being older and it doesn’t make me bored to tears. Instead, it gives me a chance to look forward to aging. Just sitting at Panera I’ve seen two cyclists, a nurse, a jogger and a burly old man with a tiny little lap dog. I’ve seen a friendship forged when one cigar smoking dude asked another for directions and I’ve seen more luxury sports cars than I knew we had in this country.
And that’s after only 15 minutes.
What I haven’t seen? Walkers, sickness, sadness or evidence of death.
Instead of the New York conversation starter “What do you do”, there’s the self admissions of what one “did”. It seems most of the people here sold a business or retired after a long, financially rewarding career. The ones still working look thrilled to be serving lattes or waiting tables. And then there are the hobbies – all the things we all put to the side while working: Bicycling, photography, art, hiking, language classes, etc. My relative told me that at his photography club alone, nearly 200 people show up during the winter months. And most of them are good.
Which makes me wonder – why is it that we fear aging? A person doesn’t lose their sense of self as they get older, they just lose a little hair and a lot of collagen. And because of that, I see a happy retirement as a gift. Hopefully a gift I’m someday given. It’s a chance to refine skills people never make time for. It’s a chance to explore the world without worrying about waking up for a meeting. It’s an opportunity to get a dog or dress in clothes that always seemed a little to “bright” for the workplace. And I love every minute of being surrounded by these “old people”. Because these old people not only have their sh*t together (pardon the expression), but they are pretty badass.
Just like the coffee shop I sat at yesterday “Badass Coffee”. Which was own, ran and visited by an exclusively 50+ bunch.
- Nikki Yeager is an entrepreneur, writer and artist. She has a terrible case of wanderlust and has dedicated her life to exploring as much of the world as possible while still reaching her professional goals. She recently moved back to NYC after stepping down from her role as Director of Sales and Marketing at EHR Tutor.