Last night, we watched the beautiful documentary “56 Up” after having seen “49 Up” a few years ago. In 1964, a group of UK seven year olds with varying social backgrounds were interviewed about their dreams and outlook on life and these same kids were interviewed every seven years after that. Today, the “children” are 56 years old and their constantly changing outlooks on life are featured in this fantastic social experiment called “56 Up”.
It is not often that you get a chance to peer into someone’s life and observe how much their family unit, class, education and life choices have made them who they are today. You see how hard it is for the children to break out of their social classes or to break the cycle of divorce. At the same time, when they succeed, you see the liberating power it sheds. You see how aging delivers the richness of maturity and perspective from what was once of the ambition of our youth. You see the traits of fractured relationships vs. beautifully weathered marriages, in which spouses advocate fiercely for each other. You clearly see how much more content those 56 year olds are, who refuse to live with regret and who embrace the natural aging process, instead of running away from it. It felt healthy and helpful to watch people go through the stages of growing old. To realize that, hey, this might not be so bad after all.
It was a perfect time for me to watch this film, given all the inner wrestling (namely but not only surrounding career vs. staying at home) these past weeks have brought with them. “56 Up” puts family core values and some personal career and other life longings into the perspective of our short lives. It also forces me to ask myself what type of woman, spouse, mother and especially grandmother I want to be like (because being a granny is a life-phase that I know nothing about). And, it definitely makes me grateful for not having missed out on a day of this chaotic but rich season of raising young kids, which, I know very well, is incredibly fleeting.