Thursday Thoughts: Inspired by Meryl

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One of the things I like the most about Meryl Streep is that she’s 60. I’ve always admired her acting (she’s considered by many to be America’s greatest living film actress) but now I also admire her longevity. She’s holding her own in the film industry when most actresses top out at 40. She is a presence; she hasn’t disappeared like so many celebrities do when they hit 60—and she’s still playing romantic leads! (“Momma Mia!,” “It’s Complicated.”) Not even Susan Sarandon is still doing that (although she certainly could). I also like the fact that Streep’s been married for 32 years (to the same man!) and has juggled being the mother of four children with her career.

I’ll be 60 in two years and I can’t help but wonder if I will have a life as vibrant as hers seems to be. Will I be outstanding in my field? But then, I would have to have a field to be outstanding in. The only achievements I’ve managed to amass in 58 years are four children (if you can call them achievements. I’m really proud of the way they’ve turned out, but I don’t know how much credit I can take for that), a bachelor’s degree in history and some published articles and essays. Oh, and this blog.

Last week I was in a play called “The Hijabi Monologues.” After the play, during a question and answer period, the cast members were asked why they got involved in the production. I answered that I wouldn’t have a few months ago, but I’d recently converted to Islam and a friend had kind of pushed me into it. But I continued: “I’m glad she did, because it pushed me outside my comfort zone.”

I don’t ever want to be the little old lady who falls asleep every night wondering if she’ll wake up the next morning. I want to be like Betty White who is still acting at the age of 88—and who is as sprightly as she’s ever been. I want to go to sleep at night looking forward to what I’m going to do the next day.

It will be interesting to see where Meryl is in 20 years. What kind of parts will she be playing? Will she even still be acting?

Somehow I think she will be.

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Ellen Keim

Ellen is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with three cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

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