What lessons have baby boomers learned from James Taylor?

If life is an aging process… well… we baby boomers are getting there, aren’t we? That’s what fellow boomer Dr. David Bernstein of Oldsmar, Florida, writes about. And in an odd way, his ideas were reinforced at a concert with a baby boomer musical icon.

As a baby boomer, I grew up listening to the soft melodies and poignant lyrics of singer/songwriter James Taylor. This month I was lucky enough to attend his concert in Tampa, Florida. It was wonderful and, even though it was in a large venue, I felt as though I was sitting close to the performer. He sang lyrics that reflected emotions and events that we have all experienced in our lives.

Dr. David Bernstein

Dr. David Bernstein

It was not surprising that his audience was made up predominately of baby boomers; Taylor is one of the all-stars of the baby boomer generation. As I drank in the atmosphere, I reflected on how James Taylor has demonstrated many the traits of GRACE that I refer to in my book – I’ve Got Some Good News and Some Bad – and my blogs.

Goals: having a vision, having a plan or purpose, or having something to live for is a consistent attribute among people who want to live into their 80s and 90s. What’s even more interesting, a sense of purpose also follows them from their working or child-rearing years into their retirement.

Roots, or having good DNA: I have observed that this is the strongest attribute yet, and it is unalterable. In other words, fortunately or unfortunately, you can’t exchange your generic coding halfway through life.

Attitude and adventurousness: these are attributes that give you a certain spirit in life. This often translates into a positive attitude and optimism that allows you to see life in a very positive way.

Companionship/connections: having an intimate relationship with a loved one or close relationships with family and friends. They stress the importance of developing a tight-knit group that can function as a support system of people who care for one another. Connections comprise families, friends, colleagues at work, members of churches and synagogues, as well as an extended support system.

Environment: how we interact with our environments— how we listen to doctors’ instructions, how we follow a healthy diet and exercise program, how we get the proper amount of sleep and rest and avoid undue risk.

James Taylor

James Taylor

What is particularly notable about James Taylor is that he has goals and purpose in his life. One clear goal is to entertain and share his soft music while enjoying himself. He couldn’t have done a better job at that Tampa concert. As a baby boomer, Taylor demonstrates that age is not an impediment to success as a performer or in any other profession.

When he combines the pleasure he gives others with the pleasure he derives from his ability to provide enjoyment to others, he has a winning combination. Having a set concert tour schedule provides a purpose or reason for Taylor to get up to face the day. We all need this kind of motivation, whether we are working or retired. As baby boomers, setting goals has always been second nature to us, but continuing to set them as we age is one of the secrets to a long and happy life.

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  1. “You’ve got to hear this guy. You’ll love his music.” It was 1966 or ’67. I was a freshman at Syracuse University and a guy by the name of James Taylor was playing at the Jabberwocky, a campus cafe. So the next night I take a seat right next to the stage , about 6 feet from this long-haired, painfully shy-appearing Taylor guy, and along with a few dozen other students, immediately became enthralled with his guitar picking–I could see his fingernails skillfuly plucking away–and self-styled songs. To this day, I often find myself singing Carolina in my Mind. “And it looks like it goes on like this forever/You must forgive me.”

    Some people are just damned lucky to do what they were born to do. And JT was born to sing.

    Thanks for conjuring up the memory, David.

    1. Hi Larry,
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree, I think he is great too. My wife and I try to get to his concerts when he is in town. We have also followed his son Ben’s career and he has played in Clearwater in the past 2 years and he played in a real intimate spot and we were among the 100 or so (mostly Boomers) to hear him do what his father does. I wrote a blog about him that I posted on my website last year. Check it out if you like. DavidBernsteinMD.com

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