Bruce Springsteen has always been a storyteller. Yet last year, at age 68, he found a whole new way to tell stories—on Broadway—and a whole new batch of stories to tell.
Mixed in with his older songs about working class rebellion and romances that ended badly, the Boss recounts tales of his life now to packed audiences at the Walter Kerr theater in New York City. Like how he dances with his mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease. And how much he misses his longtime friend and sax player Clarence Clemons, who died in 2011 after complications from a stroke at age 69, just a year older than Springsteen is now.
“Aging is scary but fascinating,” Springsteen wrote in his 2016 memoir Born to Run. “And great talent morphs in strange and often enlightening ways.”
Springsteen calls it morphing but the more common term these days is reinvention.
Whatever word you use, the dynamics are the same: You reach a turning point in your life when outside forces and inner yearnings combine to convince you that you need a new path to remain vital and relevant. Enlightenment is what happens, hopefully, along the way.
Often, the process starts at work, as young stars rise and technology reshapes the job market, and many older workers begin to feel marginalized. So you seek—or are forced to seek—a new way to make a living.
Or, with a keener sense of the passage of time, you may simply feel inspired to finally pursue a long-held professional dream.
But reinvention is happening in the more intimate aspects of our lives too. As health issues pop up and shifting family dynamics spur changes in our relationships with spouses, lovers, children, and parents, we naturally begin to more deeply ponder our purpose and our values.
The process of reinvention often isn’t easy. “Change is hard,” says Lynn Berger, a New York City career coach. “You have to take the time to understand what is happening, not just feel threatened and react.”
But when you come out the other side, the rewards are incalculable.