Since you’re going to get older, why not get a bit bolder?
I heard those words last week from Dr. Bill Thomas when he offered a live, theatrical event entitled Life’s Most Dangerous Game, designed to disrupt how we think about aging. Bill, whom I had the privilege of interviewing earlier this year, is the author of Second Wind and is a force for changing the public’s perceptions of elderhood. Combining medical science, music, movement, and stories into an evening’s entertainment, he challenged us to see new possibilities in aging.
Like living a little more dangerously.
And why not? In letting go of caring so much what people think of us, we, with either age or acquired wisdom, may find new voices within ourselves to speak out about issues where we once would have remained silent. We may speak out to include people whose voices aren’t being heard in public debate. Or, we may choose to stay silent, when we decide that some of our small annoyances don’t need to be expressed.
For example, in Washington State, few politicians dare to address a very critical issue: state tax reform. You know who does? A group of vocal elders in one of Seattle’s retirement communities. They are speaking out about the issue. They are choosing the dangerous game.
One way to live more boldly is to dare to express more of yourself. Even in how you dress.
It’s interesting that so many large stores, like Nordstrom, tend to ignore the 50 plus woman, as if they’ve forgotten who controls much of the country’s purse strings. They use fashion models and mannequins that look like they’ve barely escaped puberty. I say, “No matter.” Letting older women fly under the radar of the merchandisers might be a good thing. It gives us more freedom to enjoy ourselves on our terms.
When we dress to go out, we don’t yearn for cat-calls, wolf whistles, or future reproductive partners (if we ever did). We can dress to express ourselves and have fun.
My elegant friend, Anna Martinsen, a former image consultant and personal shopper, told me that your style comes out of knowing who you are. In that, older women may have a distinct advantage.
For many of us, it’s time to be bold as we express our style. Say good-bye to trendy. Good-bye to trying to fill the holes in our socially-punctured self-esteem by buying stuff we don’t really need. And good-bye to most of the rules that have told us how to be.
And hello to becoming dangerous.
One of my friends in Seattle, Alene Moris, has been an advocate for women and social justice for many years. Last November, when her friend, Hilary Clinton, lost the presidential election, Alene was devastated. At 89, she knew that her dream of a woman president of the United States would almost certainly not be realized in her lifetime.
She grieved. And then, persisted
Age has just made her bolder. She continues to inspire people to keep working for the changes Alene herself may never see. Her work will not end with her. That’s why she’s doubly dangerous.
When you’re committed to working for something that’s out of reach in your lifetime—you’ve got real power.
Bill Thomas was right: aging may have its merits. We get older. We grow bolder. We become dangerous.