Conscious Aging: Joan Baez

I’m a big fan of Joan Baez: 1960’s era folk singer, activist, beloved daughter and sister, mother. Baez has performed live for over 60 years; she’s recently made the decision to stop touring after this final round, given the insurmountable changes in her voice due to aging.

I came upon a YouTube interview with Baez on a Scandinavian talk show in which she speaks honestly about coming to terms with aging as a performer. Given my blog post the other day about aging and the obligation to share wisdom, I found the interview fascinating and listened to the whole thing.

I agree with Baez that the work of this stage of life is discovering what we have — without overlooking the real and painful diminishment in what we once had but no longer do — and making the most of it. That’s the work of every stage of life, really, but with aging there is much more to contend with in the “diminishment” bucket. My personal tool kit for engaging with life no longer seems filled to overflowing. But it’s hardly empty, either, and I agree with Baez that what might have once been hidden or overlooked at the bottom of the tool kit might be powerful and fulfilling.

There’s another nugget in this YouTube interview, which I found hilarious. Baez, always a beautiful woman and no less so at age 77, has had affairs with both Bob Dylan and Steve Jobs. She might be the only woman on the planet who has seen both men naked.

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