Let’s think about aging for a bit. When I was younger I dreaded aging. What is there possibly to look forward to about getting older? Then I saw the movie, On Golden Pond. This is the family classic with Henry Fonda, daughter Jane Fonda, and Kathryn Hepburn which came out in 1981. In the movie Kathryn Hepburn makes the casual statement that now that she is older, she doesn’t worry about what other people think of her any more.
Wow, I thought. Imagine not having to worry about what other people thought of you any more. Now that was something to look forward to. I began to notice that older people went about their lives with little thought to the judgments of others. My youthful preoccupation in my high school and college years with my mother’s embarrassing behavior suddenly took on a whole new meaning. Perhaps it wasn’t she who had the problem, but me. Instead of being embarrassed by her, I should be trying to emulate her. I began to pay close attention to the older women in my church, how comfortable they were with themselves. They were long past caring and moved through their lives with grace and ease–whether they were bird watching, folk dancing, or demonstrating for world peace and clean rivers. I began to look forward to old age as a time of complete security with myself and the emotional freedom to do as I like without anxiety. I decided to move toward that goal as early as I could. After all, why wait till I’m 70 if I can get there at 40 or 50? Now that I am in my 60’s I have arrived at that level of emotional freedom, and my lack of concern with the judgments of others is the source of embarrassment to my own 20 something daughter.
Watch a movie today about older people. Here are some suggestions. Besides On Golden Pond, try these:
The Old Man and the Sea (1958) with Spencer Tracy
Wild Strawberries (1967) by Ingmar Bergman
The Sunshine Boys (1975) with George Burns and Walter Matthau
Love Among the Ruins (1975) with Katherine Hepburn and Laurence Olivier
Cocoon (1985) with Don Ameche
Trip to Bountiful (1985) with Geraldine Page
Whales of August (1987) with Bette Davis and Lillian Gish
Driving Miss Daisy (1989) with Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy
Grumpy Old Men (1993) with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau
About Schmidt (2002) with Jack Nicholson
Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood (2002) with Ellen Burstyn
Just for today, pretend that you are old and that you are long past caring what people think of you.
Say what you care to say and do what you feel free to do. Be yourself.