I am inspired by women and men in their 90s. In very old age, they seem to be true to themselves.
I interviewed 12 nonagenarians early this year. As I listen again to their voices, I am still charmed by how different they are from each other and how thoroughly individual. They always were individuals, for sure, but in very old age there’s absolutely no doubt at all that they are entirely comfortable being their unique, authentic selves.
I think that’s why I found their company strangely calming, even in vigorous conversations. I didn’t have to second-guess what they meant.
In our interviews, they didn’t seem to have that filter of, “What will people think?” They said exactly what they thought. And as one of them said, “Now, when I talk, I believe what I say.”
What an amazing thing to say! Is that true of you? Is that true of me? More so now, perhaps, in my 80s: I usually think a little longer before I speak. I do filter what I say, but not for fear of being blamed or disliked or embarrassed. It’s more like, What do I really think about this? What might be true and possibly helpful?
By the way, obviously I did not interview the Queen. But she certainly was an extraordinary working nonagenarian.
Right now my life is over-full, with three performances in the next two weeks. Working with a play script inspired by conversations with very old people excites me and yet it brings me a kind of peace. I take from these conversations the knowledge that it is possible to live an authentic, creative, satisfying life in your 90s, even with illness, disabilities, and the many and various changes brought on by aging.