The AtlanticThe Atlantic

The new old age

By David Brooks

25 Aug 2023 · 19 min read

informed Summary

  1. The article discusses the emergence of a new life stage between career and old age, as people are living longer and often have 20 years or more of active life after retirement. This stage, referred to as the "Encore Years," can be a rewarding phase but the transition into it can be challenging, especially for those whose identities were closely tied to their careers.

A<span>nne Kenner worked</span> for many years as a federal prosecutor, first in the Eastern District of New York, and then in the Northern District of California, trying mobsters and drug dealers. “I like the hairy edge,” she told me. Her job was meaningful to her; it made her feel useful. When she became disturbed by the powerlessness of some of the young people caught up in the system, she developed a curriculum to help students understand their rights if they came into contact with law enforcement: Here’s what to do if the police stop you; here’s what to do if a cop asks to look inside your backpack.

A turning point in Kenner’s life came when she was in her 50s. Her brother, who had been troubled since childhood, shot and killed himself. They’d had a difficult relationship when they were kids, and she hadn’t spoken with him in 33 years. He had cut off almost all contact with her family decades earlier, as his life spiraled into reclusive paranoia. Still, she told me, his death “was a massively tumultuous experience. I wanted to understand why I was knocked sideways personally.”  

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