“It takes a long time to become young.”: Jane Fonda muses on Life’s Third Act

It seems like we’ve all lived five years in the last one.

Although this year has been so hard on each one of us, we can’t help but think about the ones who often get left behind in the discussions we have about hardship in this country: seniors, retirees, grandparents, and nursing facility residents.

There’s a saying you might have heard from your parents at some point in your life: getting old isn’t for wimps. 

…That last word tends to be a different word when we hear it, but for the sake of keeping this blog rated “G for general audiences,” we’ll go ahead and leave it at that.

And perhaps right now that’s never been truer.  Although we have a cultural problem with acknowledging and making space in our minds for seniors, the fact remains the pandemic lifestyle is hardest on the group we most ignore.

With seniors being the most at risk of developing life-threatening symptoms from contracting COVID, they’ve been the ones most isolated for the past year.  That isolation can bring severe emotional, mental, and even physical consequences.  Depression, anxiety, memory loss, and cognitive decline are all directly associated with sustained loneliness.

Even without a global pandemic, the saying was always true.  Getting older is hard.  Being a senior isn’t easy.  And it doesn’t help when our society tends to view aging so negatively.

But today we are blessed to live longer than ever before.  These days our life expectation is 30 YEARS more than it was decades ago.  As Jane says in this TED Talk, it’s like we’ve been given the opportunity to live a full second adult lifetime when we reach retirement age. 

Changing the way society perceives aging and retirement starts first and foremost with ourselves.  And while we still have several months yet to spend in isolation before this is all over, it’s vital that we focus our thoughts on all the good things aging can bring if we only choose to see them.

Contrary to popular belief, our senior years tend to be the time of life people report the highest levels of self-satisfaction, contentment, acceptance, and inner growth.  It’s a time when many of us get our first chance to stop, take a deep breath, and finally get a chance to figure out who we really are and what we’d like to do.

Our first “act” is about growing up, learning to rely on ourselves, and gaining all the basic tools to go out into the world.

Our second act is building a life, raising our families, cultivating experience, and working toward what might be the most fulfilling time in our lives:

The Third Act.

That’s what this TEDxWomen Talk is all about.  Oscar-winner, author, and activist Jane Fonda became a household name nearly 60 years ago for her film and Broadway roles.  But even after decades of pretty remarkable experiences, she says it’s only recently she got to know herself and truly start enjoying life. 

In this TED Talk, Jane talks about how she arrived at her Third Act and what she’s learned about aging and the wonderful things being a senior can bring. 

And in THIS day and age?  We can’t think of a more appropriate, uplifting, or important message for America’s seniors. We hope this brings the same smile to your face as it did to ours.

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