The amazing Helen Mirren is credited with this quote:
Your 40s are good. Your 50s are great. your 60s are fab. Your 70s are F*@ing awsome.
When I first read it, the 40s, 50s, and 60s decades resonated. But the 70s? F*@ing Awesome?
I tried hard to believe her — I really did . But I wasn’t totally buying it.
The 40s were good. I got married, had a son, enjoyed being young and healthy. But before the decade was done, dissatisfaction cast its shadow and darkened into a full fledged storm of divorce. Better things were coming. I managed.
I’ll agree the 50s were great. I felt some discrimination for the first time in this youth-obsessed, Instagramed culture we’re fed. Fifty seemed the invisible tipping point that toppled me over to the silver singles realm of on-line dating. It kinda pissed me off. Yet… at the same time I got smarter and began learning to have a relationship with myself… and enjoyed my freedom!
The 60s, where I’m currently running out the clock, have been fab. I’ve stopped both trying too hard and taking myself too seriously. I’ve gotten away with scamming fear a few times and even traveled solo half way around the world, and I’ve come to accept and like the skin I’m in (well most of the time).
Which brings us to the 70s being awesome. I wasn’t buying it initially. Why was that?
Well, for starters Covid-19 has hit this age group and older the hardest not only with infections but also with deaths. And many of us, myself included, have shamefully accepted this as less serious.
I’ve heard from women in mid life complaining of feeling invisible. Just wait a couple of more decades. Another wrote about the benefits of being invisible. What?? No way. I see no possible benefits to being invisible. I still want to be deemed relevant in the world. Invisibility be damned!
But as I stewed on these self imposed, narrow perceptions, I noticed that the world, and even social media are slowly changing, and elders are being recognized for their sex appeal, style, and talent, as well as wisdom and experience.
Just look at the actor Stanley Tucci, an Instagram star with a huge following mixing cocktails for his wife in his slim- fitting black polo.
There’s been an explosion of gorgeous, silver-haired models and social media influencers selling, very successfully, I might add, beauty products.
But what has really kicked out the jams of my faulty thinking and prejudice are the recent Academy Award nominations of actors who not only represent diversity but also elders in their 70s. Their perseverance and stories are inspirational.
Self taught Korean star, Yuh-Jung Youn, up for best supporting actress for her role in “Minari,” spent 50 years in TV and movies in her homeland before being recognized here in the US. She is the first Korean woman to be nominated: “Me, a 73-year-old Asian woman could have never even dreamed about being nominated for an Oscar.” A divorcee who raised two sons Youn decided when turning 60 that she would only take on projects with people whom she trusted exemplifying the philosophy that I want to embrace. That is: to live and age on my own terms.
Seventy-two-year old actor, Paul Raci, also nominated for best supporting actor in the film “Sound of Metal,” had been playing bit parts in Hollywood for the past 40 years before he was discovered by Director Darius Marder for the role of a deaf, recovering, Vietnam vet. He always felt he was capable of more, and when nothing happened, he continued to hope and pray for a break through.
To realize that dreams can still come true in ones 70s, even after decades of dead ends, is truly remarkable. They’ve both shown us that this is a time for refirement not retirement, modeling that the best can still be… yet to come.
So I’ve changed my perspective. At a time when I thought I should be content driving through life on cruise control, I’m going to put my pedal to the medal…and mettle… and never look back in the rear view mirror of the past.
The 70s are going to be f*@cking awesome.