Does anyone remember the cult classic movie, “Harold and Maude?”
If not, go see it. Netflix has it (DVD only).
For those who haven’t seen it, it’s a movie about a May-December romance, only the guy is way May, and the woman is almost past December.
I saw it in college and there was a scene in which the young man’s priest is horrified and disgusted at imagining the young protagonist in an intimate embrace with the much-older woman, played by the inestimable Ruth Gordon. He shuddered at the thought of her wrinkled self up against the firm flesh of the young man.
I found the thought exhilarating.
This, I thought at the time, this is how I want to age. Because the young man knew, as the priest did not, that the character of Maude was younger than he was. In the movie, she teaches him how to really live.
I had Maude in mind when I started a podcast recently called, “Keep it Juicy.” The podcast is aimed at over-50s (like I am) who know how to squeeze every bit of juice out of life.
For the longest time, I’ve been receiving unsolicited AARP mailings and I would toss them out without looking. I’m young, I thought. Of course, I am not young. I’m not even middle-aged unless you believe I will live to 110 or older. And I do not.
But I’m not old, either. Because, I know old. Old is what happens to some of my friends and family.
Here is what it looks like: things become too much trouble. Maybe it’s the live music show – why go, I can just listen to the CD (or stream it if they happen to be tech-savvy). Or, I went to that festival last year. I don’t need to go again. Why go downtown at all, when life is so much quieter and more predictable out here?
Then, new things become too much trouble. Facebook? Nah, that’s for kids. Technology? Eh, my phone is slow, but it’s not broken!
Next, new ideas are too hard. Why listen to people so obviously stupid, when I can just find news outlets that confirm my bias?
And, finally? People become too much trouble. Anyone who looks, acts, or thinks differently, whether they are a different race or a different generation, are just too damned much trouble to figure out. Better to surround myself with people who echo my opinions so that I know my opinions are the right ones.
Maybe not physical death, but certainly the death of anything fresh or young or curious. It’s a get-off-my-lawn-you-kids way to live. It’s a dry way to live.
And, so, I resolve to live juicy.
In my podcast, I talk to people who are experts at how to live a life more fully, either because they are subject experts or because they’re living the juicy life themselves. These are people who meditate, who fall in love and, yes, have sex, who run off to disaster areas to save animals.
They don’t have it all figured out because they’re still learning. They fail and shake it off, maybe only after a drink and a hearty laugh. They take classes. They make friends both older and younger, and they celebrate those differences and learn from them.
They admit when they’ve got no clue, and they find someone who can give them a clue.
They put themselves in uncomfortable situations because they know that’s where growth is, and they know they didn’t stop growing when they reached adulthood. Far from it.
They’re not perfect and they’re not even always happy.
But what they are is alive. They grab life by the balls. You can not talk to one of these people and be bored or neutral. Love them or hate them, they are riveting.
I love them because I don’t have any of this stuff figured out.
First of all, I had no clue about how to do a podcast. So, I taught myself, by asking questions and doing research, and, mostly, by screwing up every step of the way before I got it right (hey, anyone want to buy an expensive microphone that winds up being useless to me? Only used once!!)
And, I pretend that I know what the hell I’m doing. I started asking people to be on my podcast even before there was a podcast. And, shockingly, if you pretend hard enough that something exists, people respond. People started to agree to be on my show. I have interviews tucked away that take me well into the new year.
I wanted an excuse to talk to these warriors. I wasn’t sure they’d talk to me at a party, but on a podcast? Sure! And, along the way, I’ve found that I have a knack for getting them to open up. Some of them tell me I asked them things they never thought of, and that the interview made them think about things in a new way. That is my gift to them.
And theirs to me is that I get to be the host of this amazing party that brings in way cool people, and I, along with my audience, get to learn life lessons from some of the best. And, putting myself out there on a podcast, figuring it all out, and listening to how they’ve figured out their own stuff?
For me, it’s the recipe for living a juicy life.
Keep It Juicy! podcast can be found at http://www.keepitjuicy.com or on iTunes.