My wife and I just watched two thought-provoking movies, back to back.
The first one was Nomadland. After losing everything in the Great Recession, a woman embarks on a journey through the American West, living as a van-dwelling modern-day nomad. She travels the country and still works occasionally, meeting all kinds of people on her journey.
The second movie was Some Kind of Heaven, a documentary. It follows the lives (and challenges) of four people who live in The Villages, a mega-senior, Disney-esque community in Florida, home to approximately 140,000 people—seniors only!
These two movies were strangely similar in the fact that there are some people of (un)retirement age who just want to escape. To me personally, that doesn’t sound so great. But both movies stayed with me and made me think.
Nomadland showed (un)retired people who were often triggered by something in their lives, usually a trauma, to move on while shunning mainstream life. Some Kind of Heaven is just that—a place where seniors from all over the country come to live out their dream retirement. But is it?
My first reaction was to be judgmental. But if something terrible or unexpected thing happened to me, who knows what choices I would make? If I lived somewhere I didn't like or had few relatives or friends, maybe I would want to live out the stage of my life in an entirely different way. Who knows?
What I've learned from talking with our podcast guests is that you can’t look down on others who don't make the same choices you do. As Episode #21’s guest Ed Casey says, “(Un)retirement is like a fingerprint. Everyone is different.” I can’t think of a better way to make the case that we all need to enjoy life right where are, right now.
When my wife Diana and I explored the Mendocino Headlands last week it reminded me that the movie Summer of '42 was filmed there. A lot of people don't know that. (Our movie buff fans will know for sure.) They originally were going to film it back east on Nantucket but couldn't for some reason.
Talking to Diana about this, she said "We need to watch it". (In the middle of a pandemic we have LOTS of time to watch movies…) And rewatching the movie brought me back to one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.
That movie came out in the theatre (remember those?) when I was about 15 years old. And I saw that movie with my Mom as her Saturday night “date”. I don't know if you remember that movie or not, but it's a coming of age movie that would make any 15 year old squirm and want to die ten times over with your Mother sitting right next to you. If you rewatch the movie you will understand.
So back then I get through the movie with my Mom, feeling completely mortified. We had gone to the early show so we could go have dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant which was right next door. And then it happened--when we are walking out of the theatre, there is a huge crowd waiting to go in. The first two people standing in line were the two most popular girls in my Junior High! I ducked my head, sure they were staring at me with my Saturday night date--my own Mother!!!