#Aging is living. Stop confusing it with #dying.
Out there, way out there
There’s a lot of disagreement around how to frame the last century’s unprecedented increase in human lifespan. Is it a crisis or an opportunity? Will a “grey tsunami” of incapacitated freeloaders sweep us off our feet, or will we tap into the social capital of millions more healthy, well-educated adults? Are longer lives a blessing or a curse? Experience and ideology shape the responses, of course, but there’s one thing both liberals and libertarians can agree on. What single characteristic of these older Americans will make the most difference? Their health. Living longer looks a lot more attractive when it’s uncoupled from cognitive and physical decline. It’s a lot cheaper too: illness is expensive.
On her 82nd birthday, visionary artist and activist Yoko Ono released a music video called “Bad Dancer,” named after the first single on her latest Band album. Critics didn’t mind the dancing—they were warned, after all—but made plenty of disparaging comments about her singing and her costume. Ono struck back with an open letter about ageism in the music industry.
A few years ago I took a dramatic monologue class to sharpen my speaking skills. The teacher was brilliant and a surprising number of the participants were talented too, including three who recently presented six moving and original pieces at the Producer’s Club. I laughed, I cried, and I stumbled over some language. One piece referred to a “creepy old priest” and I punted that to Yo, Is That Ageist? Another piece prompted this note:
My compadres are beginning to organize! I'll be there on January 13th. Also looking forward to learning how to facilitate safe and productive conversations about age bias. Ferguson has provoked plenty of interesting exchanges around identity and solidarity, and while racism and ageism are different in significant ways, there's much to learn from those discussions as well.
Last week I had the pleasure of being a guest on Cavaliere’s Cabaret, a monthly variety show in New Haven’s Lyric Hall hosted by brilliant singer and performer Anne Tofflemire. There was singing, there was dancing, there was comedy, and there was a 10-minute conversation with me about—you guessed it—ageism. The response was terrific, including this lovely follow-up note from a woman in the audience.