There is a touch that takes a lifetime to achieve. Locking this touch away is like stripping from ourselves part of being human.

Michael Rossato-Bennett 

From ‘Alive Inside’

Last month, I mis-attributed the above quote. It’s from the movie Alive Inside, but it was spoken as narrative by the film’s director, Michael Rossato-Bennett.

That movie was a free, online offering from the Wabi Sabi Film Festival, a project of the Wednesday Journal and A Tribe Called Aging. This project features films for and/or about older people, of interest to everyone.

The Wabi Sabi Film Festival continues this month with another free online movie on Friday, Aug. 21, featuring the powerful documentary Gen Silent.

Gen Silent asks six LGBTQ+ seniors if they will hide their lives to survive. They put a face on what experts in the film call an epidemic: gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender olders so afraid of discrimination, or worse, in long-term care facilities or health-care facilities, that many go back into the closet.”

After the movie, we will be joined by both the film’s director, Stu Maddux, and producer Joe Applebaum, for an “in-theater” Zoom discussion with Q&A. Please go to www.wabi-sabi-GenSilent.eventbrite.com to watch the trailer and to register.

Speaking of movies, last week Oak Park Temple showed a movie online for the congregation — A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Tom Hanks as the inimitable Mr. Rogers. The film is not so much about Fred Rogers as it is about his relationship with a journalist assigned to profile the children’s TV personality for Esquire magazine.

Two of my main takeaways from this movie involve commentary regarding conscious aging.

This film is a terrific example of the quote, “Holding a grudge is like eating poison and expecting the other person to die.” Forgiveness is an important part of aging consciously, of aging with intention. Forgiveness is for the person doing the forgiving, nobody else. Mr. Rogers helped the journalist understand this and then change, based on that awareness. The movie helped me see just a bit more clearly my arrogance in holding a grudge, the negative effects it has on me and how I have better things to do with the time I have left in this physical life. 

The other point has to do with appearances, which I’ve written about here before. When I was young and Mr. Rogers was airing on TV, everybody knew the show. This movie jogged my memory that I always thought Mr. Rogers was weird and that he was a wimp. That’s how he appeared to me. Changing into a cardigan and playing with puppets. No adult I knew did that and that was not the “grown up” I aspired to be. Little did I know. And that makes me think of how “old people” appear in our culture — wrinkled, frail, wimps, weird. Now when I see that older person with a walker, I can picture their multiple versions over the years. And, borrowing shamelessly from Dr. King, hopefully I can judge them not by the wrinkles of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Thank you, Mr. Rogers.

Join the discussion on social media!