My grandmother always told me “Age is just a number.”
She doesn’t let society’s view of “age-appropriate behavior” get in the way of her fun. Which is why I believe she looks incredible and has the energy of someone half her age (I won’t reveal how old she is, since another one of her mottos is “A lady never reveals her age“).
As a woman rapidly approaching her mid-thirties, I take a great deal of comfort in this. I am not immune to societal beliefs of “women” and “age”. We hear about 40+ year-old Hollywood actresses going to great lengths, i.e. plastic surgery, crazy dieting, etc, to remain “leading lady material.” Several of Maxim’s ”Hot 100 List of the World’s Most Beautiful Women” are barely old enough to buy alcohol. And how many hot, senior sex scenes have you seen in TV shows lately? Not many.
Even the medical community is in on it. What’s the number of diseases a woman is prone to get once she’s reached menopause? How many more annual medical checkups should I be getting past 35? And should’t I be pregnant by now?!?!?
While there is scientific validity in the need to put more attention on one’s health past a certain age, the “fear of death” and “age-shame” that often comes with “the science” is something I’m choosing to leave behind.
Which is why I am so inspired by the woman known as “Dancing Jane.”
At 85-years old, she discovered she could do “the splits,” after years of erroneously thinking she couldn’t due to a casual comment made by a high-school classmate, and even made an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno to demonstrate her abilities.
Now at 97, she shares her story and the many things she chose to do because she wanted to do them, regardless of what her circumstances told her was “possible.”
So thank you, Dancing Jane, for bringing your elder wisdom and teaching us that love, fun, humor and compassion are really what this life’s all about—and that getting older is an opportunity to cultivate more relationships in which to share those gifts.