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?
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