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Age is a Gift


Love, creativity, happiness: Those are a few of the rewards that a long life brings

With longer lifespans come challenges and choices. Can we find inspiration for new passions and the confidence to move away from the familiar? Can we sustain our longest friendships, and enlarge our capacity for compassion and curiosity about the world?


Age, it seems, opens doors to the world of dance, art, a second career or finding love again with less worry about judgment. The people we discovered across six continents are making the most of their age and living life to the fullest, some to 100 or more.


The Carter Burden Gallery in New York City (at top, photographed by Jérôme Sessini), nestled among a trio of exhibition spaces in the city’s Chelsea neighborhood, offers works by painters, sculptors and mixed media masters with one biographical detail in common: All are 60 or older. Pieces by previously undiscovered artists sell from several hundred to many thousands of dollars — market proof that the art scene isn’t just for younger up-and-comers.

A dance hall in Chongqing, China, where older dancers love the early morning —Sim Chi Yin/Magnum

Across the globe, creative expression of another sort takes place most mornings. In the sprawling municipality of Chongqing, China, those who love to dance can get their groove on at Bao Zhu, one of this city’s dozens of popular dance halls. The halls usually have three sessions throughout the day but the older clientele favors the 8:30 to 11 a.m. slot. Wu Difang, 66, and her dance partner, Long Junyou, 75, (pictured right) are regulars, but there is no need to come with a partner. For those who choose to come solo, the dance hall provides companionship along with a sense of freedom.

Lorraine Field teaches students about rock formations such as the Calton Hill volcanic site. —Olivia Arthur/Magnum

When in her late 30s, Lorraine Field found herself suddenly free of a telecom company job in which she had felt constrained. Thanks to that layoff, she made a bold choice to return to school for a bachelor’s degree and then a doctorate in a field about which she is passionate: volcanology, the study of volcanoes. Now 54, she is a happy petrologist who studies rocks with the British Geological Survey and teaches at the University of Nottingham.

“It couldn’t be any more perfect,” says Frances Hodges of falling for Tom Budzinsk. —Carolyn Drake/Magnum

Tom Budzinski and Frances Hodges found passion too, in new love. Budzinski, 65, and Hodges, 63, first made contact online; in 2018 they met in person at The Villages, Florida, and discovered that they both love music and travel and that they each have two sons. They fell in love instantly and are now planning a wedding. “We radiate love,” Hodges says. “We think the fact that we are older is important. It’s saying to each other, ‘I’ve waited for you for my whole life. You’re the absolute most special, wonderful person.’”

Terry Allison and Cathy Gonzalez found new love online. —Carolyn Drake/Magnum

After the sudden death of her husband in 2007, Cathy Gonzalez, 64, met Terry Allison, 65, on the dating site Our Time in November 2012. “We went to a local Panera restaurant and, while I don’t think either of us would admit to an immediate spark, I liked him immediately and he demonstrated a very sweet sensitivity from the very beginning,” says Gonzalez.


The couple began dating regularly, even going to church together two months after meeting. Three years later they were married. Says Gonzalez: “Our faith is the glue of our relationship and has become a huge component of our social connections, as well as the centerpiece of our family values.”


The Secrets to Longevity

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