THE BLOG

A Reflection on Aging Inspired by 'Portlandia' and the Monkees

04/26/2014 02:16 pm ET | Updated Jun 26, 2014

At a meditation class I attended last week, a woman about my age -- mid-50s -- said the oddest thing. A group of us were discussing how aging releases us from the need to conform to fashion and this one woman said, "Well there is one good thing about aging, I guess."

I was stunned by that remark. It's not because I've miraculously escaped the travails of growing older -- I walk with a slight limp, slather on moisturizer like spackle and frequently call my cat by the name of my daughter. But I rather like aging. I know, I know, it beats the alternative. But beyond that, I am so much more able to navigate personal and professional situations that would have stumped me decades ago. That accumulated wisdom and experience are pretty wonderful. And with them came the ability to not care very much if my shoes and bag match. Even better, a lot of the music I loved back in the 60s and 70s is current again, giving me a bit of street cred. And I'm a whiz at game shows that span the decades because I lived through the LBJ years, padded shoulders, Duran Duran and disco.

When I look in a mirror, I see a 57-year-old woman but I also see myself at 16 and 40. Frankly, my hair looks better now. And those lines and wrinkles give me character -- at least that's my story. It's only when I see photos of friends from college that I gasp in shock at how old they look. And I'm willing to admit they likely do the same when they see photos of me.

But it wasn't until today that I came face to face with the reality of aging. It happened innocently enough. I am a fan of the TV show Portlandia, though I rarely find the time to watch it. It's easy to laugh at the west coast when you live on the east and Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein are hilarious. My college student daughter has discovered the show on Netflix and loves it which means she sometimes follows my lead. So I taped a few episodes and watched one this morning while sorting socks.

One of the story lines involved the mayor of Portland, played by Kyle MacLachlan of Twin Peaks fame. His elderly parents were underwriting the city of Portland as a gift to their son, buying him a bridge, a podium for his speeches, etc. Funny. The actors playing his parents were so understated that I wondered if they were, in fact, MacLachlan's actual parents. They even look like him. So as the credits rolled, I looked to see who they were. Are you ready for this? His elderly father was played by Michael Nesmith.

Does that name ring a bell? It likely will if you are a woman between the ages of 50-60. Michael Nesmith was a member of The Monkees, beloved by girls like me back in the late 1960s. Nesmith was the wry, talented one who usually wore a knit cap. I personally had my first crush on Davy Jones who was small and androgynous enough to not scare my prepubescent self. But the point is that Nesmith is part of my generation and here he was on Portlandia playing someone old. Not only that, he is looking old. It's not his fault; he was born in 1942. But still, he was one of The Monkees for pete's sake!

So what have I learned today? Perhaps I understand a little bit more what drives Joan Rivers and Kim Novak to go under the knife in order to maintain the illusion of youth. I am grateful that Paul McCartney dyes his hair. And now I think I'll go look in my closet to find shoes and purses that match.