Brand building through storytelling

How old is grown-up?

I used to think the day would come when I’d be all grown up, with my whole life figured out. Another big milestone or two, and I’d be there. Now I’ve passed any number of milestones. Jobs embraced with soaring hopes and left for new priorities, houses bought and sold, both parents buried, my son sent off to seek his fortune.

But the older I get, the younger I feel inside. I look in the bathroom mirror and the first thing I see is a pesky little line above my lip that wasn’t there yesterday. It all seems so new, this sense of not knowing my reflection, and yet in fact I’ve been here before. At 13, I looked in my bedroom mirror and saw that my familiar girl’s body was turning into a woman’s. Just when I think I’ve finally grown up, I discover that I’ve still got some growing to do.

ArethaI’m in good company. Take my newest role model, Aretha Franklin. At 65, she’s still adventuring both professionally and personally. She’s broken free of major labels to produce her own album, showcasing mainly her own songs. For the first time in her career, the soul diva has made all the creative calls herself. “I didn’t have to ask anyone anything,” she says in a New York Times interview published yesterday. I never knew an icon like Aretha would have to take orders from the suits, but it seems I was mistaken. Like me, she hadn’t quite grown up.

Well, just look at her now. She’s considering a film project. She plans to start flying again after nearly 24 years of anxiety attacks at the very thought of boarding a plane. (Hey, maybe there’s hope for me to overcome my panic at the thought of driving.) Aretha never learned to read music and plays the piano by ear, yet she now intends to learn the basics and more at the legendary Juilliard school. Her own role models of the keyboard range from Oscar Peterson to Vladimir Horowitz, but I’m struck by her hard-won respect (excuse me: R-E-S-P-E-C-T) for her own self-taught style: “…I realize that I do play a piano that maybe they couldn’t play. So I uniquely do appreciate the piano that I do play.”

Onward, Aretha! I’ll be listening.

Posted by Rona

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