At the end of the trip I was making conversation with some older ladies before seeing my last matinee. We were casually comparing notes about great plays in town, and I mentioned how much I enjoyed “33 Variations.” One of the ladies immediately became icy, and said flatly, “I wouldn’t go see her. I don’t like her politics.” I was kind of stunned that someone would still have that reaction 40 years after the trip where “Hanoi Jane” was coined, but I understood her feelings. I replied, “Well, you should go see the play if there’s a revival, or if someone else is in the role, since it’s a terrific play.”
Since then, I’ve enjoyed the insights and self-awareness Jane showed in her autobiography, “My Life So Far” in various interviews. There’s a similar theme running through the short talk she gave recently at TED. Below she discusses the benefits of aging; a startling statement for an actress who is undoubtedly constantly reminded of age. If we can stay in good health, we are now living 34 years longer than our great-grandparents. Marianne Williamson once joked that her grandmother was in her 50’s when Marianne was growing up and she seemed ancient. And you know what? According to the practices and mind-set of the day, she probably was.
Like the lady I met in New York, I’m sure there are many people who still dislike Jane Fonda, but I’m stirred by her. I may not always agree with her ideas, but I find her intelligent, vital and thought provoking.
Enjoy her short speech at TED about life’s third act and see if it challenges any perceptions you might have about growing older. As she notes, “Aging bring us into wisdom, wholeness and authenticity.”