The traffic crawled, stopping and starting for nearly an hour, but I barely noticed. I was listening to a new podcast by Julia Louis-Dreyfus called, “Wiser Than Me,” and it made my long drive to and from the city feel like an inspirational adventure. The podcast boasts a series of interviews with older women about the wisdom gained from aging. I listened to conversations with activist Jane Fonda, novelist Isabel Allende, and Ruth Reichl, the former editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine.
During the program, Julia asks her guests to share what they’ve learned about living well and the advice they most want people to know about growing older. It was refreshing to hear women talk openly and honestly about both the challenges and benefits of being in their seventies and eighties. Once I finished the third interview, I shut off the phone and spent the drive home mulling over all that I’d heard.
It was clear that with age comes the courage to stop fooling around. Because life has an expiration date, you care less about keeping the peace and more about honoring what’s true. If you don’t want to do something anymore, you stop doing it. If you’ve grown tired of being an audience for other people’s drama, you bow out of the performance. You keep your inner circle close and you conserve your energy for the things that make life sing – often simple things like cooking a good meal, quietly enjoying morning coffee sans interruptions, or playing with grandchildren who return home at the end of a visit.
With aging comes freedom. By the time you reach your sixties, you usually have enough history under your belt to know that you can survive heartbreak, loss, guilty feelings, and people being upset with your choices. You become more skilled at setting boundaries – sometimes out of desperation or exasperation at first – and it becomes easier to say no without overexplaining or defending your decision.
And then there’s health. This was the one thing that stood out the most. Nearly every conversation focused on the importance of taking good care of our bodies so we can enjoy the benefits of elderhood. There is a deliciousness to aging that could be interrupted or missed altogether if we’re forced to spend a lot of our time and energy treating health issues that could have been avoided.
By the end of my journey, I felt excited about the next few decades of my life and when I got home, I put on my sneakers and went out for a walk. A long walk. With hills.
You can check out the podcast on all the normal channels and learn more about it, here.