The Magic Of Being A Certain Age
BY LORRAINE DUFFY MERKL
Everybody gets older – including The Boy Who Lived.
He’s returned to us with great fanfare in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – packaged as a book, film series and London stage play, with talks of moving to Broadway.
The eighth chapter of his story is set nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts. Harry is now a grown man with a daily grind job at the Ministry of Magic, a Quidditch correspondent wife, and three school-age children; the youngest of whom is struggling to live up to his family name — or, actually, downplay it. Lots of enchantment still ensues, and both father and son learn an unfortunate truth: sometimes, not only does darkness come, but it comes from unexpected places.
Yes, you can do everything right, yet still walk into work and find that you’ve been downsized; come home and find that your spouse has moved elsewhere; or get a call to hear that your child has been in an accident.
One of the saving graces of aging is knowing that we are not alone. Regular Joes and movie stars can all have said about them: Hey, remember when so-and-so was a real looker? And no matter what people’s In-Your-Facebook pages portray, at some point in everyone’s life some darkness comes.
In fact, I can credit one such movie star with a valuable life lesson. Years ago in the midst of his breakup from Cindy Crawford, Richard Gere offered something during and interview that stayed with me: “When you’re ten and something bad happens to you, it seems like the worst thing in the world. But as an adult, you’ve had things happen before and you survived, so you know you’ll get through it again.” And again and again.
Just accepting this fact puts us in a better place than younger people who take it personally when their well-imagined plans do not lay out in front of them like the Red Carpet at a movie premiere.
The other night my husband and I went to Shakespeare In The Park, a free outdoor performance in New York City’s Central Park. We sat in front of a young woman, who shared the story of her relationship’s demise with her companion – and all of us within earshot.
I know full well what a soul-crusher it can be when someone, not only does not choose us, but chooses someone else over us; in this case though, it was more than that. She could not believe such a thing could happen to her. Apparently the universe didn’t get the memo that hard times were not supposed to come her way.
(The wind up of her seemingly never-ending conversation about what an awful boyfriend she had, but whom she was clearly not over, actually went like this:
“I hope he drowns in the boat he’s on with his new girlfriend. The new guy I started seeing is so much better than he is. Do you think if I text him to say ‘Hi,’ to show there’s no hard feelings that’d be OK?”)
It will take a few more decades for my young theatre-going friend to develop what we of a certain age know as grit; the fortitude that stops you from asking, Why me? and helps you see that it’s just your turn. And that this too shall pass, as my mother – the Queen of Grit — used to say.
Also, sometimes all it takes to feel a bit of relief is to bare your soul to someone your own age and have them respond: “Well, when that happened to me…” It reminds you that you’re not being targeted by life. These things happen. You’ll get through.
Few things unite readers the way a good Harry Potter tale does, and, of course, sharing life experiences. Before you can do that though, you have to live a life.