As anyone in their 50s or 60s can tell you, there’s still a lot of learning, exploring, growing—and, yes, mistake-making—to come. Midlife is just another milepost, not a stop sign. 

With that in mind, we asked a group of leading authors, musicians, artists, activists, and educators who’ve remained vital well into their 70s, 80s, and even 90s what wisdom they’d impart to their 50- or 60-year-old selves. Given how their lives have turned out, what do they wish they’d known two or three decades earlier?

Their answers are generous, moving, and sometimes downright funny. Read on to hear their advice—because you’re never too old to learn from your elders.

Interviews conducted by Max Alexander, Austin Kilham, Lynn Shattuck, and Emily E. Smith.

{{slideNumber(index)}}

{{slide.title}}

{{slide.title}}

{{slide.caption}}
{{slide.credit}}

Watch this

The best places to go leaf peeping