Visit my show at the PSCCU Credit Union, Vashon, Washington May, June 2024 

What’s Age Got to Do with It? (Thank you, Tina Turner)

In 1984, Tina Turner celebrated one of the biggest comebacks in music history. She hit the stage at 44 with her “Private Dancer” tour, and she didn’t just come back—she soared. She became the queen of rock—as a grandmother.

Forty-four doesn’t sound that old to me anymore, but in those days, rock n’ roll was a young person’s sport. Tina retired at 70 after her “Tina!” 50th Anniversary Tour in 2009. She was still dancing in those heels. (I once tried dancing in Tina-styled high-heeled boots, and I lasted five minutes.)

Nowadays, seeing older rock stars isn’t remarkable. Cher is performing at 77, Dolly Parton at 78, Mick Jaggar at 80, and Paul McCartney at 81. Touring is hard work, yet no one is calling for older artists to retire.

Yet this year, ageism is running rampant like a bad troll that’s been seething underground and is now coming out for a feedfest. Just as Hilary Clinton brought out the misogynists, President Biden’s campaign has unleashed the ageists. At least with Clinton, you couldn’t publicly say, “She’s not capable—she’s a woman”—even as a disgusting array of misogynist comments spewed across social media. President Obama brought out the racists, although most commentators would have been rebuked if they had announced, “He’s not fit to run, he’s Black.”

This year, though, people are publicly flouting their assault on age. The “too old” slogan is thrown about by newscasters, commentators, and comedians. (It’s not that funny.)

It’s cheap. People banter it about without thinking through what age really means. Age is complex—it plays differently in everyone. Tina could still dance wildly at 70. I couldn’t have danced like that at 30 (and I used to be energetic!) 

What age has to do with it

I won’t kid you that age hasn’t made a difference in my life. I would never go on the road touring (but I wouldn’t have had the energy for it in my forties). I hate long flights. I can’t master languages like I could in my teens. I lose steam if I try to do too much. But that represents just my personal response to age—my chemistry, challenges, and energy.

I now prefer to do fewer things and do them better. At 72, I don’t get as bothered by small things, and I don’t suffer fools.

And, I feel more authentically myself than ever.

I should never be President. But that was never my calling. In the areas that matter to me—my writing and speaking—I have more wisdom and skill than I did ten years ago. And my capacity to hold the world’s paradoxes, polarities, and complexities continues to increase.

Yes, my body has declined, shortened, and I have stopped jumping my horse over anything but the tiniest of jumps. That makes me sad, although my partnership with my equine mate (also aging) continues. My human partner is 88, and sometimes his age also makes me sad. If I could lop off 20 of his years, I would. At the same time, I’m more in love with him than ever and grateful for every day we have. Love is sweeter.

Two of my wisest friends are 90 and 96.

The bottom line: aging looks different in each of us.

What does matter

Age is one factor in considering one’s suitability to be President, but it’s only one of many, including:

  • Character.
  • Honesty and ethical, moral behavior.
  • Experience with political decision-making and national and international affairs.
  • Ability to bring the best people together to get the job done, and to acknowledge that leadership is a team sport.
  • Compassion. Concern for others.
  • Commitment to the country and to the job—service above self.

Franklin Roosevelt didn’t want to be photographed in a wheelchair in order to hide the fact that he’d been paralyzed by polio. John F. Kennedy had back pain, colon pain, and probably Addison’s disease, so he flew, under the radar, to Eastern Europe for special treatments, (A fact my Polish naturopath divulged.).

Biden can’t hide his age—and the ageists are out in force, trying to distract us from assessing what really matters. 

The craziest ism

As the author and anti-aging advocate Ashton Applewhite points out, being ageist is like discriminating against your future self.

In her powerful book This Chair Rocks, she writes: 
“We experience ageism any time someone assumes that we’re “too old” for something—a task, a haircut, a relationship—instead of finding out who we are and what we’re capable of. Or “too young”—ageism cuts both ways—although in a youth-obsessed society olders bear the brunt of it.

“Like racism and sexism, ageism serves a social and economic purpose: to legitimize and sustain inequalities between groups. Prejudice isn’t about how we look. It’s about how people in power assign meaning to how we look.”

Advancing age doesn’t guarantee wisdom. (There are some evil, older dudes out there.) The world needs those who have found their way to wisdom, at whatever age they are. 

So this year, I’m putting on my imaginary Tina Turner “I don’t take no shit” high-heeled boots (even if I can’t wear the real ones) to call out ageism for what it is:

A weapon of oppression. Cruel, outdated, and something we all need to change.

‘Cuz it’s got to do with all of us.

5 Responses

  1. Hi Sally,
    It is always good to read your words. Actually, older people (old hippies) may be an important part of life today – as young people are bombarded with Artificial Intelligence, iPhones, constant blasts from social media, games, etc. Maybe us old ones need to step up and write or draw or paint or sing songs expressing our LOVE of NATURE and demonstrating why being in nature is so vitally important for all human beings! We are part of nature, just like the squirrels, birds, grass-fed cows, trees, bees and more. Whew! Thanks Sally!

    1. Always great to hear from you. Nature is SO important as an antidote to AI — and picking up a pencil to draw it (or humming a tune as you walk in it) is the best!

  2. Spot on! I retired from a job in national advertising for a large corp. when we would get pitches for new ads from our agency they were rife with subtle and not so subtle age jabs. Most of them disguised in mild humor. Also in meetings with constant references age. Heck I even caught myself doing it. Once I identified for myself what was going on (which, not coincidentally happened around the time i turned 60 😉) I sat down with the agency folks and explained my concerns. They were so cool about it. We made a pact that we wouldn’t put anything out there except things that held aging in high regard. Felt good to have a drop of impact….just a drop

  3. I love this, Sally! Once again you have hit a nail on the head. And Tina Turner is an excellent example!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Translate »

Create Your Own Story! Get the Free Download

Live your life with more meaning, creativity and joy. And enjoy our free e-book to help you create the story you want to live.

You have Successfully Subscribed!