F. Scott Fitzgerald’s line, “There are no second acts in American lives,” is one of the most gloriously wrong aphorisms ever written. American lives are brimful of second acts. Steve Jobs, drummed out of Apple, returned to build it into the world’s greatest technology company. Andy Enfield went from a brilliant career at a health care startup to coach obscure Florida Gulf Coast’s basketball team deep into the NCAA Tournament. An abject failure as president of the United States, Herbert Hoover got a second chance as one of the world’s greatest public servants, spending his later years helping reorganize the federal government and feeding millions of starving European children after World War II. Ina Garten, a nuclear policy analyst for President Jimmy Carter, turned a passion for cooking into fame as the Barefoot Contessa.
Open to immigrants, lacking a rigid class system, filled with open spaces where you can start over, the United States is world’s best place to try something new. The story of America is the story of doing it again. We retire, then spend our 70s and 80s working full-time on a new passion. We fail at one career, then discover our true gift in another. We stop our lives right in the middle—at the height of success and prosperity—to follow another, truer path. Over the next six weeks, we’ll be writing about these fresh starts in Slate, in a series called Second Acts—from corporate accountant turned Jesuit priest James Martin to fashion designer turned filmmaker Cindy Meehl, to an airline employee who has found post-retirement joy as a park ranger.
We’re also collecting your tales of starting over. Please click the "Enter Your Proposal" button to tell us the story of your second act—a comeback from failure, a post-retirement reinvention, a crazy mid-career jump to the new thing. With any luck, your stories will help other Slate readers see how they can leap into their second act. Tell us how you made your second act happen, what obstacles you had to overcome, whether you ever regretted it, and how it has all turned out.
We’ll collect all your stories here at hive.slate.com. Over the next month, we’ll pick out favorite stories and highlight them on Slate.