Years ago I read everything I could get my hands on by Shirley MacLaine. I was fascinated by the fact that she never tried to hide her spirituality – even though it was considered “out there” by so many others, and especially by the media. Hollywood seems to have embraced Shirley as she ages. Perhaps, it is because she herself has embraced the aging process. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about successful aging, healthy aging and what I’m more apt to call conscious aging. It seems as if those who have a spiritual outlook on life, age more successfully. Wait. Successful is one of those words whose very meaning is in the eyes of the beholder. Aging and all the things that go along with it, can be used as a means of spiritual growth. Think about it. We can either complain because our joints creek, or we can use a ‘gratitude practice’ to recognize the gift our joints have been and still are. We can bemoan the loss of certain memory – or we can take it as an opportunity to live in the moment and KNOW that the memories that are important can never be lost.
How are you facing the aging process? Are you doing it consciously? What spiritual practices have you found support it? Do comment below. I’d love to hear your experience.
In the meantime, here’s what Shirley MacLaine had to say in a recent interview.
GO!: Hollywood seems like such a tough business for women as they age — what is the very best part about getting older?
MacLaine: People laugh at my jokes more readily, they help me in and out of cars. I don’t have to worry so much about makeup and hair. The parts are wonderful — if they’re there. I really enjoy the older parts. I’m enjoying the third act of my life very, very much. I have not experienced some of these heartbreaking events of aging. That hasn’t happened to me, at least not yet.
GO!: What do you like most about the parts written for more mature women?
MacLaine: They’re full of wisdom, full of humor, full of experience, full of drama, full of comedy — all that, because you’ve lived a longer life so therefore the part is richer. In “Steel Magnolias” and “Terms of Endearment,” I think I was rehearsing for my old age.
GO!: You’ve written about spirituality quite a bit — has spirituality become more of a focus in your life as you’ve aged, or has it always been there?
MacLaine: I think I’ve been a mystic basically since I was about 10 or 11. I’ve always ruminated on the otherness of things — there’s got to be more than this. That’s one of the reasons I travel. In southeast Asia, in Africa, in the near Middle East, the focus on material, physical dimensions is not as high a priority as it is in the West.
GO!: How has this mysticism played a part in your life’s work?
MacLaine: I’ve written these 13 books — they have been an exploration of these other dimensions. And I think acting is also a kind of mystical approach to expression. We imagine what a character might think, say or act, or have the body movement of. Imagination is considered unreal, at least in the West. So I use mysticism and imagination as (interchangeable) terms. I mean, maybe life itself is show business.
Excerpt from the Monterey County Herald