I finally figured out what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be happy. Full of cheer and joie de vivre. In fact, I’m going to let my smile be my umbrella! And between you and me, I’m feeling the joyful bug at this very moment. Anyone up for tap dancing?
Now, let me make it clear, I’m no Pollyanna. You won’t find me playing the Glad Game after my brand new car’s been hit at a four-way stop or while being anesthetized for oral surgery. Still, there’s something to be said for looking on the bright side of things and having a positive outlook. It’s what got me through my divorce and the loss of both my parents. Just one of these misfortunes would be grounds for a depression registering an 8.1 on the Richter Scale, but for me they happened all at once. It was enough to drive me off the deep end into utter devastation. But in the end, optimism and joy prevailed. That and the fact that time really does heal all wounds.
Turns out being happy can lead to a long and productive life. I know this because I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of filmmaker Susan Polis Schutz’ latest documentary, “Over 90 and Loving It!” This is Susan’s fourth film for public television. Her first, the acclaimed “Anyone and Everyone,” poignantly conveys the story of parents from diverse walks of life as they learn of their children’s sexual orientations.
As you can deduce from the title of Susan’s upcoming documentary, it’s all about some amazing people who’ve reached their nineties and how they’re living their life to the max. It is indeed, as someone else who watched it said, “a celebration of life and hope.”
Certainly made me feel a whole lot better about the aging process. I mean, you should see what this 90-plus set is up to. They’re still working—whether driving a taxicab in New York, or waking up at the crack of dawn to bake cinnamon rolls for Cinnabon. They’re performing, playing duets on the piano—magnificently I might add—or writing songs and strumming their guitar with their grandson, a la Pete Seeger (yes, that is famed folk singer and songwriter, Pete Seeger, in one of the segments). They’re also busy heading back to college for their Master’s and giving back to their community in a big way—by organizing massive donation parties for neighbors in need.
They’re passionate about life, and smart and funny to boot. They are definitely not thinking of retirement. At least not anytime soon. They’re not even looking to move into a senior living home or waiting around for their golden years to begin. Why should they? They’re having the time of their lives!
Now I can spend hours and hours reading thousands of self-help books to learn all about happiness and why it’s important to my well-being and to leading a long, fulfilling life. But why bother? Susan’s new documentary says it all in one hour. Joyfully and succinctly. Ah, sweet bliss.
Yes, these young whippersnappers are embracing their age. And all I can say is, if this is what being 90 looks like, then sign me up. So how about it? How do you feel about growing up to be 90 plus?
- Pete Seeger Still At It, Performs at Anti-Fracking Rally (ecopolitology.org)