Our Stars, Our Selves

January 11, 2009 |

Okay, that last entry felt a lot like hard work, so with all due respect to the men reading this post, I feel the need for a little eye candy. Seriously, listen up! We all desperately need images of what a thoughtful, satisfied, successful – and meaningful - midlife can look like, and under that elegant and poised exterior lies an interesting midlifer who’s ‘doing the work’.

I don’t remember where I read this interview with Brad Pitt about his new movie, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, about an octogenarian who ages backward into infancy, but I noted it because of comments he makes about his own aging. Among them was that this movie was a fitting assignment for a man at life’s midway point, as he had some personal reckoning to do with the temporality of things.

Pitt, who just turned 45, says that “once you hit 40, you start reexamining the math of it all,” So far though, the pluses and minuses are adding up just fine. He’s says that he’d trade wisdom for youth any day.

He seems to have become comfortable with who he is, both on set and off, and to have found balance in his life. A colleague comments that he thinks it may have to do with his family. “It’s like he wants to cut to the chase … work it … and then be done with it and go home and live to act another day.” Pitt agrees that as he has matured professionally he doesn’t have to grope as much for the character, and that age and experience has helped him fine-tune “what I’m after, what I think speaks in the piece. And {then} I want to hurry and get home to my kids.

Pitt has also found renewed purpose in giving back to a community in need, and with a very holistic and sustainable vision. To underscore the depth of his commitment, he recently moved his family of six kids to New Orleans, to better facilitate his Make It Right Foundation’s ambitious project to provide the city’s flood-ravaged Lower 9th Ward with dozens, if not hundreds, of affordable new housing units. Pitt sponsored an architecture competition organized by Global Green with the goal of generating ideas about how to rebuild sustainably. After reviewing the hurdles of rebuilding in a devastated area, they decided that a large-scale redevelopment project incorporating innovative design with green affordable housing was possible.

And he’s aware and preparing for the next chapter. Lately, he says he has been acquiring “more friends who are older than myself than younger” - even though, “I wouldn’t say our culture leans toward respecting the wisdom of age and those who’ve been around a lot. It’s Beavis and Butt-head: ‘You’re old!’ ”

He also suggests that what matters more than one’s age, is maintaining a creative spirit that lasts a lifetime. He seems to have found the sweet spot.

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