Aging Gracefully

I wrote this post inspired, thinking someone else may relate. Then, I cringed, realizing it’s a bit self-focused. But why? I love it when others post their personal insights. Why doubt it? So here goes. Forgive me if I mentioned past stuff before. It’s relevant now.

In 2015. after pivoting countless times on command and being fired and rehired by the same venues, an agent (I liked, and just the messenger) called and said, ‘Oh yeah, that venue, they don’t want jazz now. Ok, in their exact words, they want “an eighteen-year-old girl singing Coldplay covers.”

It was no different from a zillion other phone calls saying, “You’re too old. You don’t wear enough makeup. You don’t smile enough when you sing.”

But this time something snapped inside. I realized I had to get a job where it no longer mattered how I looked and I had to do it ASAP because something was really messed up. I’d chosen a life path based on my love of sound. Yet, in order to work, so much depended on how things looked. The whole point of music for me is its human vulnerability. That is the actual drawcard. 

What is human about having to look perfect and young all the time? These weren’t movies or magazines. I am not a model. They were regular, higher-end venues and corporate gigs. Why did I play along for so long? Because I loved doing the gigs. The worst part is I bought into toxic attitudes about aging, which I am still working through, in 2021, and I am only 51!

One of my grandmothers embraced aging more than she needed to. She joined Senior Citizen’s clubs in her 50s, while my other grandmother fought against it, wearing make-up on her hands. The irony was, her fear distracted me from noticing a real elegance about her.

I don’t want to carry these conflicting, junky residue ideas about aging anymore because there is society’s obsession with plastic surgery, also. Why does Dolly Parton look great? Because she radiates self-respect, acceptance, and love. So, there is no right or wrong way. Each to their own.

To be clear, the agents I worked for were great, especially, Peter O’Regan and Dave Douglas, who fought very hard to stop a venue from firing me for some ridiculous reason I have long forgotten but made no sense at the time. I am grateful to those who kept food on my table. This is a societal issue. People started listening to music with their EYES. When? Was it rock and roll, Elvis? I don’t know. But it is at the loss to the music if you know what I mean.

Anyhow, not long after that phone call, I stopped performing and went grey and it was fantastic. No one at the supermarket cared! Maybe, I will gig, again, without that pressure. However, right now, recording is perfect for me because the sound is all that matters. This Christmas, I bought hairdressing scissors and cut my hair off. It was no big deal, cutting off all my stupid limited ideas from the past. We must be who we are. Happy 2022!

Elizabeth Geyer

Sydney, Australia

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