AARP's "Fearless at 50", Telling Inspiring Stories

Ricky & Doris

January 5, 0216 · Share via Email LinkedIn

In another AARP Studios “Fearless at 50” release, we see that people over 50 are no different than those of their younger counterparts; they seek to be creative and inspire others.

Ricky Syers always thought that he was meant for a different life. An artist at heart, he struggled to reconcile with his "normal" job of manual labor. "I hated work more than anybody. I hated being there. I hated having to be there, driving there when everybody else was driving there. Ah, man, being in the rat race was just...Sigh, I just wanted to be out so bad," he explains.

In refuge from work and in search of creative outlet, he turned to his long-time hobby of music, the first step towards taking his life and career in an entirely different direction. With newly-found free time on his hands, Syers began crafting puppets as props for music videos and taking the puppets along with him to street performances. Before he knew it, he had a whole knew career at the age of 50 as a marionette street performer — and, he'd made an unexpected friend, too.

Doris Diether, an 86-year-old community activist, former puppet columnist, and life-long New Yorker, happened to be strolling through New York City's Washington Square Park during Syers' first week of marionette street performances . Mutually in awe of each other, Syers created a puppet exactly in Diether's image, "just to wow her." Before long, not only were they fast friends, the unconventional pair were also co-performers in a marionette routine featuring Diether's puppet and a puppet character of Syers' own, Stix.

Today, Syers knows that it's never too late to reinvent yourself. His identity is shaped by his creative work, and he couldn't imagine a better life:

"I went from having to play gigs and, you know, pulling concrete and all that to doing this, and people are putting money in my hat... I [am] just overwhelmed. All these years, I wasn't a laborer trying to be an artist or a steelworker trying to be an artist. I was an artist trying to be those other things. So, that's who I really am."

AARP delivers storytelling at its best whether in our bi-monthly magazine, AARP The Magazine, our monthly news publication, AARP Bulletin, or our website, You can follow AARP on YouTube to see more of these inspiring Fearless at 50 stories.