“Fairy tales can come true, they can happen to you, if you’re…” yold at heart?
Wait a sec. Isn’t that song lyric—written by Carolyn Leigh, made famous by Frank Sinatra—supposed to be “young at heart”?
True, but as a lover of words, I was smitten when I came across this odd little coinage of yold.
It’s what is known in linguistic circles as a portmanteau, which in itself is a cool word. It means, to cite the dictionary definition, “a word blending the sounds and combining the meanings of two others, for example motel (from motor and hotel) or brunch (from breakfast and lunch).”
Thus… Young + Old = Yold.
Yold was invented by the Japanese as an homage to the resilience and vitality of people in their 60s and above, says an article by John Parker in The Economist, where I first learned of it.
Forget Ponce De Leon and that wimpy fountain of his.
Boomers are summiting the mountain of youth.
Call it the 2020 effect.
Are We in a Movie?
It’s cliche to say that we “ring in” every new year. Yet there’s something about the tintinabulation of 2020 that has a cosmic ring. Far from signaling the finality of a decade past, it evokes a beacon of renewal -- the far-sighted vision of a Kubrick epic; or how about a Hitchcock movie: the tantalizing mystery and suspense of “What lies ahead?”
The identical-twin symmetry has something to do with it too, I suppose. It happens but once a century: 1818, 1919. There’s nothing sleek and sexy about those bland years, though. No wonder 1 is the loneliest number.
The last time we could embrace the voluptuousness of the egg-shaped digits (symbolizing birth) that round out 2020 was a whole millennium ago. So, come on, let’s party like it’s 1010! (Or at least let’s tune in to 1010.)
Decade of the Young Old
More important than all that numerological navel-gazing, Boomers can take heart in 2020 being dubbed by The Economist as “the beginning of the decade of the yold.”
In the Japanese culture, those between 65 and 75 are called “young old.” It’s a sign of respect, not an empty, patronizing appellation. It’s also a recognition of 21st Century fact: Boomers are bodacious! (What the hey, all you need is a little spring in your step to make the short hop from decade to decadent.)
According to The Economist, “By continuing to work, and staying socially engaged, the Boomers will change the world, as they have done several times at different stages of their lives.”
There’s data to back it up, too.
• This year, more than 10% of the population in so-called “rich countries” are 65-74 years old, a higher percentage than it was 20 years ago.
• During a quarter-century period leading up to 2013, reports the publication, “the median wealth of families headed by someone over 62 in America rose by 40%, while the wealth of all other agre groups declined.”
• In 2016, more than 20% of 65-69 year olds in “rich countries” were working, which correlates to why that age group’s health has improved.
• The over-60 crowd is among the fastest-growing groups of airline customers.
• Studies show that, in some industries, older workers are more productive than younger generations.
• The most productive teams were found to be comprised of workers from different generations.
So, folks, forget those dreams of growing old together.
Make the dream a reality of growing yold together.
“And if you should survive till a hundred and five, think of all you’ll derive out of being alive. And here is the best part, you had a head start, if you are among the very young at heart.”
May your Twenty-Twenty prove to be a Horn of Plenty.
Bruce Apar is a writer, actor, consultant, and community volunteer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; 914.275.6887.