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Indiana Jones and the Temple of Viagra

Alex Miller

It’s been interesting listening to my kids react to the upcoming Harrison Ford movie.

You know, the one where he reprises the role of intrepid archaeologist Indiana Jones some 25 years after the original?

“God, he’s so old, it’s ridiculous!” my older son says.

I have a hard time disagreeing, even though “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981) is one of my all-time favorite films. When I heard they were coming out with another this summer, I figured at the very least they would give Ford a younger sidekick (which they did, in the form of gifted young actor Shia LaBeouf) and a less-physical role, a la Sean Connery, who played Indy’s frumpy dad in the last film.

Looking at the trailers, though, it appears they put Harrison Ford into exactly the same action role he played back in the 1980s: swinging on ropes, crashing into windshields, punching bad guys, etc. Ford turns 66 in July, and it doesn’t appear he wants to age gracefully into more reserved roles as college professors, terminally ill husbands and the like.

But who does? Most older men can relate to the frustration of not being able to do what you once could ” be it football, skiing or just climbing up the stairs without feeling winded. Who’s to say that, given the chance to have a stunt double give an exaggerated version of our virility, we wouldn’t take it? Of course, Harrison Ford has the advantage of being in a film, where we suspend disbelief and let Hollywood take us along. Even so, I think he’d be wise to hang up his fedora for good after this outing. Then again, if someone comes to the retirement home and promises gramps $100 million to pretend he’s a swashbuckling action hero, I bet gramps gives it a shot.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how time slows parts of us down, takes the edge off our passion. I look at people like Paul McCartney or Neil Diamond, who have both recently put out mediocre albums, but who used to be at or near the top. How does that feel, to keep doing what you’ve always done and realize it’s just not as good?

And one, not be an artist or a celebrity to feel how things change as we age. Sometimes, the gloriously complex business of making a living and raising a family can wear us down, age us before our time.

One of the things I love about living in the mountains is that there are a lot of Harrison Fords around here ” men and women who keep at it physically and mentally long past the time when their counterparts in other parts of the country have relegated themselves to the couch. They say that’s the way to be to stave off everything from Alzheimer’s to rickets (I’m just guessing here). Whether it’s Mick Jagger still strutting at 65 or that octogenarian who still skis 100 days at Vail every year, some of today’s seniors are an inspiration to keep living past that stereotypical retirement age. Of course, having a few bazillion in the bank can help allay some of the stress many retirees have these days, and as my generation contemplates the pension-less landscape two decades hence, it’s a troubling thought to know sitting around likely won’t even be an option.

Maybe this is a little too much weight to place on a summer popcorn flick. But if Harrison Ford and his alter-ego Indiana Jones have taught us anything, it’s this: Retire if you can, but if life seems boring, feel free to pull out some of your old tricks. If you look a little ridiculous, that’s OK ” you’ll still look better than the guy in the electric scooter who gave up years ago.

Alex Miller is responsible for the editorial oversight of the Vail Daily, Eagle Valley Enterprise and Vail Trail. He can be reached at (970) 748-2920, or editor@vaildaily.com.


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