Kay Bolden has packed her backpack and is sailing through the Panama Canal, around Madagascar, and up the Mediterranean. Then she’ll go who knows where else. She says the kids are grown, the sun is calling and she is taking her gap year.
She has just turned sixty.
Is there a thing called the midlife gap year? I didn’t know that.
Seems like there is. Everyone is writing about it.
First Kay Bolden wrote why I’m Taking a Gap Year at 60 then Shaunta Grimes wrote I Am Obsessed With The Idea of a Midlife Gap Year and before we know it everyone in this age group wants to have one, including me.
After spending years on making a living, raising children and caring for parents, my Sandwich Generation years are coming to an end. It is the time when my husband and I should live for ourselves. But the problem is, while going through the mayhem of life, we have forgotten who we are and what we want from life.
The gap year has a specific time and purpose. It normally follows after a vigorous study period or at a change of a career. It should also follow at the end of working life before settling into so-called retirement.
Most of us are now retiring in relatively good health and have several decades of life ahead of us. I have seen many people looking for some kind of ‘job’ after six months in retirement because staying at home became so boring for them. They were ready to go back to the very place they wanted to escape.
A midlife gap year is a perfect way to figure out what we want to do with the rest of our lives.
The teenagers take gap-years to widen their horizons, to see new places to experience new cultures. But for us, the middle-agers, the gap year should be about rediscovery. It should be like a pilgrimage we must take in order to connect with our souls.
And mind you the holidays won’t cut it.
The holidays are dedicated to sightseeing. And they are well-planned and extremely busy. They end pretty soon too. A gap year is totally different.
Ideally, a gap year should be away from the touristy destinations, preferably in a quiet corner of the world where there is nothing between you and nature other than a few locals. Hotels are out of question and so are the luxury coaches. Replace them with small units or paying guest sort of facilities and throw in local trains and buses.
You don’t need to plan anything. Just spread the world map on your dining table, take a pin, close your eyes and place the pin on one of the continents carefully avoiding the oceans. Then figure out how to get there.
It is living like a nomad for a year. So many young and old people are doing it. And you don’t have to do it for the whole year to start with.
So what are you waiting for? Plan your gap year.
I will let you know when I plan mine.