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Young at Heart

Liliana and I watched the DVD Young at Heart yesterday morning.  I thought she might love the rhythms and people–which she did.  So did I.

Have you heard of this chorus of men and women (73-year-olds and above) who sings rock songs–tunes by Sonic Youth, Coldplay, The Clash, Flaming Lips?  The group originally began in an elderly housing project in Northampton, Massachusetts, in the Walter Salvo House, in 1982.  Their director, Bob Ciman–in his fifties now–has led them to many stage and theater productions, and the shows are typically sold out.

I would like to think I’ll be that cool and hip and resilient when I am older.  I would like to think that I’ll continue to “suck the marrow out of life” like that.  These are people who have refused to give up, and as one gentleman in the movie puts it, “I wanted to expand my horizons, if that’s possible at this point in my life.”  Well said, I say.

My second favorite: Fred, a man who is hooked up to an oxygen tank, sings Coldplay’s “Fix You” so wrenchingly well, that it makes it difficult to see for a bit, with all that water pooling at the bottom of my eyes.

Absolute favorite: The group has just learned that one of their members has died, and an hour later they sing to a group of men in the local prison.  They sing Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young,” with all the credibility of grandparents wishing their grandchildren well.  Liliana watches the men’s faces–some baby-faced, some scarred, but all listening–and says, “Sad, sad.”  She looks up at her weeping mother and stretches up to kiss me.

May God bless and keep you always,
May your wishes all come true,
May you always do for others
And let others do for you.
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May you grow up to be righteous,
May you grow up to be true,
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you.
May you always be courageous,
Stand upright and be strong,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

May your hands always be busy,
May your feet always be swift,
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift.
May your heart always be joyful,
May your song always be sung,
May you stay forever young,
Forever young, forever young,
May you stay forever young.

Can life be so bittersweet–to still want to sit at the banquet of life and not have the physical capabilities to taste it any longer?  Can we possibly think of ways to “broaden our horizons,” even if we’re in the middle of terror or pain or loneliness or old age?

I’ll get back to you on that one.  I wouldn’t be a believable spokesperson yet–at least in the old-age regard.

Here’s the trailer for the movie.  Enjoy!

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The quote I live by

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.
--Rainer Maria Rilke in Letters to a Young Poet

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