This elegantly simple video by software developer Marius Budin uses Google Suggest (the feature that “completes the thought” when you type a word or two into the search window) to traverse a hypothetical life course writ in billions of searches. Worries about pregnancy, virginity, failure and loneliness prevail, a telling glimpse into human insecurity. Also noteworthy is the fact that the video devotes 90 seconds to ages 10 to 40. The next 45 years rate 24 seconds, starting to skip decades at 50 and ending with "I'm 85 and I’m tired."
It may be the dog days of August, but I'm busy nailing down a number of speaking engagements in Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and closer to home, in Gowanus, Brooklyn. That gig is also the soonest: I'll be one of five performers on a science storytelling show called the Story Collider on September 4th at 8:00, at a club called Littlefields (622 Degraw Street). The Moth for the geekily inclined, the Story Collider has a theme for each event, and this evening's theme is, you guessed it, aging. Now to come up with a 10-minute monlogue "at turns funny and heartbreaking, [about] how our modern world is changing the way we age." No sweat. No notes. No auditioning, at least. It should be good.
It was May Sarton who wrote “The trouble is, old age is not interesting until one gets there. It’s a foreign country with an unknown language to the young and even to the middle-aged.” I came across the quote in this lovely blog post by Judy Fox, and it’s a metaphor that bears reflection. It reminds me of a reckoning I finally arrived at, long after losing my way in what was to become This Chair Rocks.
People often suggest that I give a TED talk, and of course I hope this opportunity comes my way. In the meanwhile, I searched all TED talks tagged with aging. Nine come up:
After my talk last month at for the Geriatric Mental Health Alliance of New York, a woman with a wonderful face handed me her card and mentioned that she'd been collecting birthday cards for years. Would I like a look? Yes I would. We got together last week, and I've posted a select and quease-inducing selection on the This Chair Rocks Facebook page.
“Ashton Applewhite's thoughtful, funny and very smart talk, This Chair Rocks, was perfect for launching our new center. It attracted a lively, multigenerational crowd, reflected our core message that aging can be met head-on with optimism, and got people fired up about the prospect. What could be better? —Senior Planet, NYC
This organization has supported me from the get-go, and I hugely appreciate it.
That’s the title of a piece by Tim Kreider on the New York Times Opinionator blog, and I hope it’s not news to everyone who passed me the link. Some of Krieder’s other eye-popping observations: you’re not getting any younger. You have to say goodbye to your childhood home. The old and infirm are pretty much missing from movies and TV. (There’s a term for that: symbolic annihilation.)