Rather than focusing on those things that made me feel my age this week-- sitting down at a restaurant and immediately spilling my drink, realizing Dustin Hoffman is now 75, writing lists of what I need to Google -- I am finding the pride behind the pain.
First, I am reveling in the music, and those who have been making it for four or five decades. Watching the concert for the victims of Hurricane Sandy, one could easily have ridiculed the paunchy, balding guys strutting and strumming their stuff. Me? I was shedding grateful tears for their ceaseless commitment. It seems like yesterday I was watching them sing to stop nuclear proliferation, end the Vietnam War, feed the poor and hungry, draw attention to the environment.
This isn't about whether my generation is better than yours, or about how they don't write them like they used to. Or maybe it is. How many times, how many songs, how much sweat have the Stones, McCartney, Jon Bon Jovi, Dave Grohl, and of course Springsteen donated to good causes? They have only grown richer and more successful, and it would be perfectly understandable if they chose to retire quietly by the shore of their choice. No, they'd rather raise consciousness and money to restore its beauty.
Yes, Sir Paul looked like the Cute Beatle's grandpa. Yes, the voices were raspy and worn. But the altruistic fervor and amazing musicianship have not wavered. They made this event happen and, once again, they have made an enormous difference.
Over at the movie theatres, there is also cause for holding our gray heads up high. Amour, arguably the best reviewed movie of the year, deals with an elderly couple that embarks on the inevitable indignities of aging. As I watched, I wondered why I needed to see my parents die again. But somehow, this compelling and elegant film is touching a nerve and not just with critics. Here are two beautiful people whose intensely personal story grows smaller and smaller -- while its audience grows wider and wider. Who can't relate somehow?
Over on the professional basketball courts, the star of the week was Jason Kidd who, at 39, is the third oldest player in the NBA. In an incredible game between the New York Knicks, (his current team) and the Brooklyn Nets (his former team -- whom he singlehandedly took to the playoffs) Kidd was the hoop hero with a final three-point shot. Of course, Carmelo Anthony, LeBron and others have youth and brawn. Kidd has the brains and the finesse and, finally, everyone was noticing. Did I mention he is 39?
Politically, all eyes seemed to be on Hillary as she prepares to step down as Secretary of State. Her probable, much younger, successor is clearly qualified on paper. But she is lacking what Hillary has learned and earned: gravitas mixed with grace. Sure, she is desperately in need of a month at the spa. But as pressure builds on her to go for the ring in 2016, she is making her contemporaries proud.
On a personal level, nine women celebrated my birthday this week. As I looked around that room, I saw not the aging faces of friends I have known for many years. Rather I saw mature, interesting and kind people who have raised amazing children, done good work (as opposed to having it done) and who continue to lead vital lives. Was I depressed about the number? Damn right. But as I listened to Bruce, watched Kidd's ball slip through that hoop, felt the respect for the woman who used to be known as Bill's wife -- I swear I forgot about it.