Editor’s note: The following is a submission from guest contributor Trish Laub, previously interviewed in this blog.
“When there’s nothing to lose and there’s nothing to prove, I’ll be dancing with myself!”
– Billy Idol
I have never felt more alive than I did on May 12th when, at age 65, I saw the one, the only, the icon Billy Idol in concert with his guitarist and friend of 40 years, Steve Stevens. My friend Cathe, who is my age and whom I have known since age 11, attended the concert with me. We were decked out in leather, with our natural white hair and wrinkles, front row and center, fully participating in the music and having the time of our lives. Who knew we would attract attention?
The concert was the main event of a weekend in St. Paul, Minn., awarded to me by AARP-affiliated and Denver-based charity Wish of a Lifetime. For 48 hours, Cathe and I walked, talked, ate wonderful food and made a couple of toasts. We stayed up late and slept in. At the concert venue, everyone including the security, theater staff, Billy’s incredibly cohesive crew and the audience were welcoming, polite and respectful — and somewhat to my surprise encompassed three generations. We all knew that something special was about to happen. In short, for me, it was the experience of a lifetime.
“If your world doesn’t allow you to dream, move to one where you can” – Billy Idol
As the evening went on, people who had spotted us at the concert actually stopped us on the sidewalk as we walked to our hotel afterward. Many were younger than us and some even asked if they could hug us. In their own words they conveyed that Cathe and I defied the perception about and stigma surrounding older adults and elders in America.
Why do people stop doing the things they love just because they perceive them as not “age appropriate?” At its most basic, why do they stop wearing the clothes that they love to wear? Who are they making these changes for? Why at a point in life when we are approaching the freedom of reduced responsibility from parenting and careers, do so many step into the remainder of their lives not truly living because of perceived social norms for people over a certain age? My parents modeled for me that age is just a number and old is a state of mind. They were not just words for my parents, they were a way of life.
The concert was two things. First, the culmination of a 42-year span of my life, during which I was fully and happily loaded with the responsibility for others. Next, it was the inauguration of the next phase, one filled with the freedom of choice in where, what, when and how I do things and the intention to have fun and play. It could not have been more meaningful than to experience this adventure with my friend of 55 years, one who knows my past and sees my future and who shares and lives a similar life philosophy … ramping up, not down.
“You are going to be who you are. Might as well embrace it or forever be at the mercy of the human fears and trepidations of life that can devastate and drag us down.” – Billy Idol
A Wish of a Lifetime, one that was 42 years in the making, really did come true. It was a life-changing experience for me, as well, I imagine, for those who observed us fully engaged in a concert performed by Billy Idol, who at age 67 is the grandfather of four, yet continues to be an icon, tour and live his life with a “Rebel Yell.”
I don’t believe in aging, other than as a chronological process, nor anti-aging as supported by a multibillion dollar industry. Rather, I believe in non-aging, being who and what I am at the current moment in life. I will not change how I look or what I wear because of a number, nor will I shy away from life because of a stigma. With nothing to prove, I want to live more fully than ever each day. I want to forever feel alive the way I did at the concert, and I hope that others will give themselves permission to do the same.