Imagine yourself at 95

I’ve been a hypocrite. Until now I haven’t really tried to imagine myself at 95. It’s very hard. In a video I talk about my role models, while Ursula the cat undermines my dignity.

As background research for my play, The Secret Lives of Extremely Old People, I asked dozens of random pedestrians, “Imagine yourself at 95.” Nearly everyone gave me thoughtful and surprising answers. For example, here is just one, in the image below. This answer came from a strong, athletic woman, and will very likely come true.

A woman and a dog swimming in a lake. The woman is thinking "At 95 I'll be on a stationary bike watching a video of cycling in the Andes. I'm 62." Text reads: The Secret Lives of Extremely Old People (5 ways of  being over 90) Book now!

I couldn’t answer my own question

Someone turned the tables and asked me how I imagined myself at 95. I was so embarrassed to realise that I didn’t have an answer. So I thought about it, and made a little video. Ursula the cat makes a mockery of my earnest attempt.

Finally I answer this question: “Imagine yourself at 95.”

My 2 role models and 5 possible future selves

In the video I tell you who my role models are (I’m lucky there). But after delving deep into the lives of multiple nonagenarians, I’ve constructed five imaginary characters for my new play. It’s called The Secret Lives of Extremely Old People, and uses a technique that Australian playwright Alana Valentine calls ‘close work’ writing. I’ve mixed and massaged the exact words of multiple people in their 90s. Then I constructed characters that are not “real”, but have their own authenticity.

See the play at Circa Theatre, Wellington, New Zealand from 25 Nov-17 Dec.
BOOK NOW: or (04) 801 7992

14 thoughts on “Imagine yourself at 95

  1. A fine upbeat video. I wish you every success with the play

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Thank you, Derrick. I know you can’t be there!

  2. Ursula obviously has no qualms about aging and will do as she pleases. I do so wish I was able to come to the play. Break a leg and, above all, enjoy!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      You understand Ursula all too well.

  3. Sadje says:

    I love your approach towards growing old Rachel

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      So far, so good!

      1. Sadje says:


  4. judibwriting says:

    Wishing you great success with the play! No actual broken legs , though, just great luck and pleasure.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I do hope you can come. We might even meet each other!

  5. Rebecca Budd says:

    Oh Rachel – I LOVE your videos and your kitty in the background was a wonderful addition. My mother will be 93 in a couple of months. I have to run to keep up with her. Her motto – you need to reinvent yourself over and over again. And it is important to connect with young people. She uses text and facebook to connect with her grandchildren. You are so right – it is a lot of work involved within the aging process. I believe that this is the time of our greatest journey.

  6. Mr. Wapojif says:

    I watched the documentary The Automat the other night and in that a then 95 Mel Brooks is wisecracking, singing songs, and reminiscing with much charm. I want to be like that when I’m older.

    Hope the play goes well!

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      I must watch that. Sounds like another great role model.

  7. Judithhb says:

    I have a 95-year-old friend, and I say I want to be a Mildred when I am 95 – only ten more years away.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      It’s great to have such a role model. And you are no doubt a role model for others, although you may not know it.