Late Bloomers: Marching To The Beat Of Our Own Drummers

Are you in your 40s and just hitting your stride? Are you in your 50s and finding your groove? Are you in your 60s, 70, and beyond, and are finally getting your shit together?

Do you march to the beat of your own drummer? Do you follow your own cadence, create your own tempo, and set your own pace, regardless of the rhythm around you?

UnknownIf so, then welcome to the late bloomers club. You are in good company. Other members of the club include artist Paul Cezanne, poet Robert Frost, scientist Charles Darwin, as well as tons of other great literary, scientific, and artistic masters, whose finest works came later in life.

David Galenson, Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, has written about late bloomers and has this to say: “Late bloomers muddle ahead, experimenting and failing and trudging forward for decades before they’re a success, or even noticed at all.”

Social commentator Malcom Gladwell wrote about the old masters vs. young prodigies debate in his insightful October 20, 2008 New Yorker essay “Late Bloomers.” He notes that “Doing something truly creative, we’re inclined to think, requires the freshness and exuberance and energy of youth.”

But the beautiful truth is that one’s talent, gifts, and self-discovery can bloom late.

So if you’re not where you think you should be in life, if you haven’t accomplished all that you set out to, or if you think you haven’t realized your potential yet, take heart. There’s still time.

Unknown-1Success happens at all stages of life, and sometimes having to wait, or do the necessary work for it, makes the success that much sweeter. Whether it’s learning to cook at age 49 like Julia Child, or getting your first novel published at 59 like Pulitzer Prize winning writer Frank McCourt, or getting discovered at age 48, like singing sensation Susan Boyle, or getting re-discovered like folk singer Rodriguez, who at age 70, finally got recognition after years of working construction jobs and living in obscurity (his story inspired “Searching For Sugar Man”, a MUST see documentary about Rodriguez’s incredible journey).

Or there’s always getting married for the first time at 56 and 51, like Robby and me.

One of my favorite late blooming stories is Marc Maron, a stand-up comedian who struggled for years with drugs and alcohol, while struggling to get traction in the comedy world. Finally, at 50-years-old, he found his footing and long awaited success with the creation of “WTF,” an original podcast that just marked its 500th episode.

“You know, when I look back on all the things I did. I don’t have any regrets. But I also know that maybe I wasn’t ready for whatever was going on. There was some stroke of cosmic timing in that — out of desperation, I turned to podcasting. Things aligned, so now I can be the comic I want to be and sell some tickets in some markets, and now I got a TV show on the air. And the one thing I can say, whether I changed myself or whether it was a series of events, is that, because I was humbled, and because I let go of a lot of expectation, I was truly ready to show up for everything that’s happened.”

Whether it’s cosmic timing, the planets aligning, patience, perseverance, following your own drummer’s beat, or having good old-fashioned faith, it’s never too late to bloom.

Same Footsteps, Different Paths

IMG_0003She was in her early 20s, just off the boat from Scotland; he was in his early 30s, newly transplanted from Brooklyn when they met and married in the 50’s.

Robby and I will be well into our 50s when we walk down the aisle for the first time.

They had a half a handful of relationships before tying the knot; Robby and I will have dated half the world before getting hitched.

They were young and inexperienced: she was an entry-level secretary at CBS; he was right out of the mailroom at William Morris; Robby and I are old pros with years of life experience under our belt.

They were just starting out, finding their way, not fully knowing themselves, or the ways of the world; Robby and I have been around the block, graduated from the school of hard knocks, and have the battle scars to show for it.

When they got married, they were building a life, planning for a family, and preparing for the future; Robby and I are already established and are looking forward to building on what we already have.

When my parents had sex, they made a baby; in about five minutes Robby and I will be sexy senior citizens.

When they moved in together, they had nothing, not even a pot to piss in; Robby and I already have our own sets of dishes, a blender, a hand mixer, a vacuum, AND a pot to piss in. We don’t really need anything, but we registered anyway because who couldn’t use a new pot?

They had goals and hopes and dreams for the future; so do we, but we’re also happy to be in the present.

They were early adopters; we’re late bloomers.

The comparisons and differences are many, but there’s one thing we all proudly did together:

WE MARRIED FOR LOVE.

Not for money, not for power, not for status, not for a green card, or because of obligation or pressure. Not for any other reason, just love.

IMG_0002Like Frank Sinatra, we did it our way – on our terms, at our own pace, in our own time. And like Paul and Sonjia Brandon, we’re doing it with integrity.

Here’s how my mother describes starting out with my father:

SONJIA:

“He was handsome, he was nice, he was a good person, and he appreciated my humor. We didn’t have much money, but we had love, and we got by. We had a small wedding at a little shul on Beverly Blvd., and had to borrow a car to go on our honeymoon since his car was in the shop. In those days, you didn’t wait to get married. It was the thing to do, and I’m glad we did because, well, we had you.”

Unfortunately, their marriage didn’t last, but knowing their story and hearing how they met has always been a source of inspiration for me. Robby’s and my path to the altar may look very different from my parents’ path, but in many ways, we’re following exactly in their footsteps.