An Interview with Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot

The Golden Age

by Parul Sehgal — Publishers Weekly, 12/1/2008

Renowned sociologist and MacArthur winner, Lawrence-Lightfoot documents the rich possibilities for intellectual growth and personal transformation between the ages of 50 and 75 in The Third Chapter.

What prompted you to write this book?

At meetings or dinner parties, there’d be a moment when someone would whisper to me, “You’ll never guess what I’m up to. I’m taking a playwriting class” or “I’m trying out for a half marathon.” It was such a departure from the typical conversations about children, aches and pains or needing Botox. I think they whisper because our society has an incredibly ambivalent regard for aging. We’re supposed to become passive rather than create a new life narrative. I remember when my mother was about 72, she called her middle-aged children to the house and said, “I don’t think you all know who I am. I’ve spent most of my adult life raising you and you need to know who I am now.”

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