Is it too late to flourish?

At age 65 and as a divorced man, is it too late to be the man God originally intended me to be?

I had a pretty successful career financially but never fulfilled the passion and purpose you speak about that men must have.  I think after 32 years my wife decided she had better strike out on her own because she didn’t feel I was the man who would provide and protect in the long haul. Together we had built what I thought was a good life and good family.  Sadly, I see where I fell short.  

I have just finished taking care of my ailing mom for two years prior to her recent death at 93. The challenge is now that my assignment is over, and having put my career on hold for 2 years, I am now 65 with the corporate world asking where have you been and why don’t you just retire?  I know retire is not in the bible and I still have full energy, capacity and drive to make a difference.

My question is at 65 is it too late to be a real man, and fulfill the destiny God has created me for?


Rick E.

Dear Rick,

We can’t wait to see what the future holds for you! If you bring energy, capacity and drive to your work, then you can accomplish a great deal. My (Rabbi Daniel Lapin) own teacher and uncle, Rabbi Eliyahu Lopian, embarked on his most famed and productive work when he was in his seventies. 

We hope you already know that Colonel David Sanders built up the Kentucky Fried Chicken company between his seventieth birthday and the time he passed on, aged 90.  Samuel Walton didn’t get the Walmart company going until he was nearly 50 years old. Raymond Kroc only conceived of the McDonalds vision when he was well into his fifties.  And these are just a few of the more prominent examples of people who found their economic niche late in life.  There are millions of others who built up successful, if lesser known enterprises after a late, late start.

You didn’t provide much information so we don’t know your field or how you sustained yourself economically while caring for your mother. It seems that you have some regrets about not throwing yourself wholeheartedly into your work at a younger age. The question to ask yourself now is, “How can I best contribute to the world?” with the awareness that you will have to strive a little harder to get others to recognize the contribution you can make.  You don’t have time for false starts or mistakes now. You may need to be more entrepreneurial, self-promoting and flexible than you might have had to have been when you were younger. Make sure that your skills and presentation reflect an active man rather than a relic.  Practicing in front of a mirror and before kind friends is the way to build up the correct image.

Keep in mind that although you do not match the pop-culture image of a young go-getter entrepreneur or job-seeker, you bring maturity, life and work experience as well as stability to the table. These are worth a great deal particularly to a young start-up which sometimes find it challenging to secure funding without an ‘adult’ in the mix.  It would be a great personal loss for you as well as a loss to the community were you to lower your sights and act as if the only thing in your future was decline.

If you get a chance, why don’t you watch Nancy Meyer’s 2015 movie, The Intern starring Robert De Niro as Ben Whittaker, an older widower getting back into the workforce.  While we don’t agree with all the moral messages of the movie, you might find it inspiring.

In thinking through your letter, we would add that a renewal of vigor and vitality as you embark on a dedicated path of economic creativity might just lead to new social connections that could dramatically enrich your life.

Onwards and only upwards,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

9 thoughts on “Is it too late to flourish?”

  1. I am not going to candy coat this. Staying positive is the hard part. Work, work, work and no friends makes it even harder. I am 56 and currently in the can’t get ahead mode and hate it. Good advice from the Rabbi but putting more energy into a new life at this stage is getting tougher everyday. Like Rabbi said ” You don’t have time for false starts or mistakes now” That is the problem. Best of luck Rick E. Let us know what worked for you.

  2. The Prime Minister of my country assumed office at the age of 93, and his work schedule is such that some of his cabinet ministers who are half his age admit that they find it hard to keep up with. So 65 years old is relatively very young 🙂

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Joseph,
      You must be from Malaysia and you must be referring to Mahathir Mohamad. I’ve been following him with great interest on account of his, shall we say, maturity and stability.
      Well done Malaysia! I’m sure your country is benefitting from far wiser counsel from Mahathir Mohamad than Canada is getting from Justin Trudeau who suffers from far bigger flaws than merely being half the age of Mahathir Mohamad.

  3. Dear Rabbi Daniel,
    Sure miss your radio show on KSFO! But your emails sometimes really hit home, like your response to Rick. I would add that having strong community bonds (preferably faith-based) is invaluable emotionally when rebuilding any part of your life. When I became an entrepreneur at age 55, my husband and friends became my biggest cheerleaders and give me the boosts I need for this uphill journey I’m on. May Rick find inspirational support, too!

  4. This is an encouragement to read the Rabbi’s answer, for both men and women. I have been praying and asking God something similarly. For “Rick E.”, I would like to ask you if you have considered any ministry and/or why not look into whether you might be a good fit for this “fledgling government” we have right now… me, God is doing some huge and great, using President Trump and V.P. Pence and all the good people who have joined his team. Seems like your corporate background would be of great use, and at same time, you would be participating in something God is doing, which is the rescuing of our nation, restoring its values of hard work and entrepreneur vision….even a pioneering spirit. God Bless you Rick! Your question touched me and I am a prayer intercessor so I will also pray for you about this matter.

  5. Stay positive and stay active. As I tell everyone, you have to keep moving if you want to stay healthy and fit. Make younger friends, they will keep you interesting and learning new things. I have 2 different sets of 40 something friends. I go out to listen to music and dance a few times a week – I might be the oldest person in the club, but I’m moving and hearing some great music and meeting new people. I’m 61 and was praying to God to send me a companion, I wasn’t clear enough though and God sent me a cat!! Everyone has something to offer and interesting and funny stories to share. I’m divorced too and it came out of the blue, but I am surrounded by great friends and family. There is a shortage of good responsible men – you will be in demand….just be yourself and be positive and happy. Good luck!

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Dear Annette,
      You make a valuable point: keep fit and health by eating well and exercising. You sound so upbeat and optimistic in spite of obvious tough times. Divorce is such a disaster! Hope the cat soon gets replaced by a man. He’ll appreciate you more than the feline does.

  6. Well you’ve certainly encouraged me. I’ve watched The Intern several times for inspiration as well.
    Now to find something at 68, with health issues, that I can do.
    I know I am not alone in still wanting to be useful. In fact, probably in the majority.
    Love your articles, both of you.

    1. Rabbi Daniel Lapin

      Thanks so much Coleen,
      For inspiration on finding an area in which you can remuneratively serve your fellow humans, spend a little time at the library exploring entrepreneurialism and listen to some of the excellent podcasts out there that specialize in this area.

Comments are closed.

Shopping Cart