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With 50 in the Rearview Mirror

Things to Do at Least Once, Maybe Twice, When You're Over 50

This is prime time — so use it well

En español | Fifty is not the new 30, but the way some people act — and bravo! — it darned well might be the new 40.

I've spent time remonstrating with you, my peer and gentle reader, about what we oughtn't to do, now that we've attained double majority plus 10 or so. Beyond that, time is running out for at least one thing we ought to do. As Ella sang, it's to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative and latch on to the affirmative.

Things to do after 50 include skinny dipping, learning a language, playing an instrument

It's prime time to skinny dip once in your life. — Photo by Getty Images

What time there is, is prime time.

So use it well.

Don't forget, the proof is all around you, that you really can do your greatest work, and your greatest good, after age 50. Picasso did. William Styron and Ann Tyler did. Benjamin Franklin helped draft the Declaration of Independence. George Bernard Shaw wrote Heartbreak House, his masterpiece. Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein wrote the score of The Sound of Music. Jennifer Grey won on Dancing With the Stars.

  • Learn to speak Italian, if not Mandarin, at least a little.

  • Fall in love with a younger man, or an older woman, at least a little — if only in courtly fashion.

  • Learn to sing, at least a little, and do it in front of someone.

  • Write a novel. Write a play. Write letters to all your grandchildren, even those not yet born.
  • Become a mentor, but to someone your own age.
  • Slowly, but a little more each day, get in better shape than you were at 30. It's entirely possible.
  • Tell the truth, every day. If nothing else, it will catch people off guard.
  • Adopt an older child. If you have an empty nest, and don't feel finished, remember that if a child knows the love of one relatively sane adult before the age of 12, nothing else matters. If a child doesn't, nothing else matters.
  • Give away something you love and that squeezes you to part with — even if it is your time.
  • Commit to memory this phrase: "I'd love to, but I can't." Do not elaborate.
  • Purge. Sell or give away the bread machine and Crock-Pot you've used once. Donate your unopened makeup, '80s outfits, and all your thick, embroidered Swiss sweaters (unless you live in Switzerland or even a chalet). Do it before your children or before your grandchildren know the definition of the word "hoarder."

Next: Try something that won't kill you but scares you. >>

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