Author Isabel Allende is 71. Yes, she has a few wrinkles—but she has incredible perspective too.
In this candid talk, meant for viewers of all ages, she talks about her fears as she gets older and shares how she plans to keep on living passionately.
Isabel Allende: How To Live Passionately—No Matter Your Age
Transcripts of the Isabel Allende’s Speech:
My parents are in their late 90s,
and Olivia, the dog, is 16.
So let’s talk about aging.
Let me tell you how I feel
when I see my wrinkles in the mirror
and I realize that some parts of me have dropped
and I can’t find them down there.
Mary Oliver says in one of her poems,
“Tell me, what is it that you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
Me, I intend to live passionately.
When do we start aging?
Society decides when we are old,
usually around 65, when we get Medicare,
but we really start aging at birth.
We are aging right now,
and we all experience it differently.
We all feel younger than our real age,
because the spirit never ages.
Sophia Loren. Look at her.
She says that everything you see
she owes to spaghetti.
I tried it and gained 10 pounds
in the wrong places.
But attitude, aging is also attitude and health.
But my real mentor in this journey of aging
This California girl at 60
started working in Nepal to save young girls
from domestic bondage.
At 88, she has saved 12,000 girls,
and she has changed the culture in the country.
Now it is illegal for fathers
to sell their daughters into servitude.
She has also founded orphanages
and nutritional clinics.
and eternally young.
What have I lost in the last decades?
places, and the boundless energy of my youth,
and I’m beginning to lose independence,
Ram Dass says that dependency hurts,
but if you accept it, there is less suffering.
After a very bad stroke,
his ageless soul watches the changes
in the body with tenderness,
and he is grateful to the people who help him.
Freedom: I don’t have to prove anything anymore.
I’m not stuck in the idea of who I was,
or what other people expect me to be.
I don’t have to please men anymore,
I keep telling my superego to back off
and let me enjoy what I still have.
My body may be falling apart,
but my brain is not, yet.
I don’t carry grudges, ambition, vanity,
none of the deadly sins that are not even
It’s great to let go.
I should have started sooner.
And I also feel softer
because I’m not scared of being vulnerable.
I don’t see it as weakness anymore.
And I’ve gained spirituality.
I’m aware that before,
death was in the neighborhood.
Now, it’s next door, or in my house.
I try to live mindfully
and be present in the moment.
By the way, the Dalai Lama
is someone who has aged beautifully,
but who wants to be vegetarian and celibate?
(Video) Child: Ommm. Ommm. Ommm.
Isabel Allende: Ommm. Ommm. There it is.
And it’s good to start early.
You know, for a vain female like myself,
it’s very hard to age in this culture.
Inside, I feel good, I feel charming, seductive, sexy.
Nobody else sees that. (Laughter)
I want to be the center of attention.
I hate to be invisible.
This is Grace Dammann.
She has been in a wheelchair for six years
after a terrible car accident.
She says that there is nothing more sensual
that every drop of water
is a blessing to the senses.
She doesn’t see herself as disabled.
In her mind, she’s still surfing in the ocean.
Ethel Seiderman, a feisty, beloved activist
in the place where I live in California.
She wears red patent shoes,
and her mantra is that one scarf is nice
She has been a widow for nine years,
but she’s not looking for another mate.
She says that there is only a limited number
of ways you can screw —
well, she says it in another way —
and she has tried them all.
I, on the other hand,
I still have erotic fantasies with Antonio Banderas —
and my poor husband has to put up with it.
So how can I stay passionate?
I cannot will myself to be passionate at 71.
I have been training for some time,
and when I feel flat and bored, I fake it.
How do I train? I train by saying yes
to whatever comes my way:
drama, comedy, tragedy,
love, death, losses.
And I train by trying to stay in love.
It doesn’t always work,
but you cannot blame me for trying.
And, on a final note,
retirement in Spanish is jubilación.
We have paid our dues.
We have contributed to society.
Now it’s our time, and it’s a great time.
Unless you are ill or very poor,
I have chosen to stay passionate,
engaged with an open heart.
I am working on it every day.
June Cohen: So Isabel — IA: Thank you.
I never like to presume to speak for the TED community,
but I would like to tell you that I have a feeling
we can all agree that you are still charming,
seductive and sexy. Yes?
IA: Aww, thank you. (Applause)
JC: Hands down. IA: No, it’s makeup.
Moderator: Now, would it be awkward
if I asked you a follow-up question about your erotic fantasies?
IA: Oh, of course. About what?
Moderator: About your erotic fantasies. IA: With Antonio Banderas.
Moderator: I was just wondering if you have anything more to share.
IA: Well, one of them is that — (Laughter)
One of them is that I place a naked Antonio Banderas
on a Mexican tortilla,
I slather him with guacamole and salsa,
I roll him up, and I eat him. (Laughter)