A lot of “old” people have been publicly highlighted lately. 60-year-old Ellen just launched her first stand up special in two decades. James Spader, 58, continues starring in “The Blacklist,” one of the most successful dramas on TV of the century. At the age of 63, Howie Mandel has returned to both the stand- up stage and “Deal or no Deal,” while still being part of the highly successful “America’s Got Talent.” Tickets for Elton John, 71, as he tours the nation are being sold on the secondary market for well over $1000 each and people are buying them. “The Who,” with an average age of 74 years old is heading out on a tour that is essentially sold out before it even goes on sale. 64-year-old Jerry Seinfeld is the hottest ticket in Las Vegas, and Alex Trebek is not only hosting “Jeopardy” for at least 5 more years, at the age of 78, he is one of the most beloved “old people,” on TV for millennials.
Get the idea yet? No?
54-year-old Sandra Bullock may have just released the biggest movie in her entire career. Netflix says more than 80 million people have now watched “The Birdbox,” an extraordinary number. Bob Saget, at the age of 62, is returning to an adult version of “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” soon. At the age of 65, Tim Allen resurrected his cancelled TV show “Last Man Standing,” and now airs on a different network on the same night as the #1 show that evening, “Blue Bloods,” starring 73-year-old Tom Selleck. The sci-fi world is melting down with excitement of 78-year-old Patrick Stewart resurrecting his role as Jean Luc Picard on an upcoming new Star Trek series. One of the most anticipated movies of 2019 is called “The Irishman,” a mob movie that’s being heralded as “amazing,” and stars Robert Deniro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci. Aged 75, 78, and 75 respectively. Oh, and the movie is directed by Martin Scorsese, age 76.
Not one of these examples is a pathetic old person who doesn’t know that the time to say goodbye was long ago. In fact, just the opposite. They’re all either already extraordinary success stories, or so highly anticipated that they’re trending topics across America.
And with rare exception (Blue Bloods, Last Man Standing) Every person, act, movie, or show is engrossing people across all ages, and in some cases, more so, by people under 30, than anyone else.
They also have something else in common; I’ve seen most of them recently being interviewed. Exciting stuff, huh?
Whether it be on “The Tonight show,” or some snippet on You Tube, I have just so happened to have seen most of those listed hyping their current projects within the last 30 days, and the overwhelming majority of them were asked about their age. While that used to be considered “rude,” especially with women, our “50 is the new 40,” empowerment of those middle-aged and beyond has now made it acceptable to highlight one’s age, as long as it’s done in a positive light. Questions like “What’s it like, at this stage in your life, to be more popular than ever,” is the PC way to say “why are people so enamored with you when you are essentially elderly?”
Eventually, the interviews, all ironically, conducted by millennials, circle around to asking the subject about aging in general. In almost all cases, the questioner is almost begging for funny stories about aches and pains, medication, drool, and hip injuries. And while some offer homages to such as they joke about things taking longer or moving slower, most didn’t hesitate with a singular answer given by almost every one of them when it came to aging:
“It only gets better.”
For the most part, we’re conditioned to believe that “young” people are the celebrities we revere. Athletes, in particular, make us believe that only those 18-29 are being placed on pedestals and respected. Add in Kylie Jenner, most pop singers, and all super models, and it “feels” like the road to obscurity begins at 30. Those of us who lead normal lives know that is total crap, but it takes time to truly grasp it.
And that’s where “It only gets better,” comes in.
There are all sorts of seemingly stupid things your parents and people their age say when you’re young. When I was 30, I remember thinking I had life all figured out and the world by a string. When I turned 40, I realized I didn’t know jack-diddly when I was 30, but now I really did have life all figured out and the world by a string. I’m a couple years from 50 and now realize that I didn’t know jack-diddly when I was 40, but I sure do have it all figured out now…but here’s the difference. At this stage in my life, what I know more than anything is that I don’t know jack-diddly today. Acceptance and self-actualization are wonderful things.
My father used to always say “Every day I’m alive I realize that I know less,” which I always thought was the dumbest thing ever. Until I realized it myself. And so, when I hear people who, by number, have been deemed “old,” by society say that life only gets better, I nod with understanding.
Granted, this seems to most younger people, like some sort of self-soothing delusion that those of us middle-aged and beyond engage in to make ourselves feel better about being on the back half of our lives. It is also one of the few things in life that you truly have to experience in order to understand. And, most importantly, you have to experience it properly and correctly. There are plenty of bitter, angry, lonely, and sad old people. As with any other age group, those are the ones who have done it wrong. But if you do it correctly, an experienced life brings you perspective, an inner calm and peace, and true contentment. If you do it correctly, this is what age brings you:
- Better friends and better relationships, built on true trust and total acceptance.
- The ability to say no.
- A true understanding of knowing what’s worth fighting for (and the answer is “not much”).
- A life in which you do almost nothing that you don’t want to do.
- A total lack of caring what other people think about you.
- No regrets, and/or a pursuit of rectifying any you have.
I never understood why people freaked out about getting older, and now that I’m “older,” I truly don’t get it. Contrary to what some punk 25-year-old thinks, I’m more excited about the next 10 years of my life than I am about the amazing decade I had in my 20’s.
When I was in my 20s, I wanted to have the ability to retire by the age of 40. Now I realize that what I was working towards wasn’t financial freedom, but emotional freedom. Thank God I stumbled into it, for it truly does only get better.