A new song and video from Justin Timberlake capture the beauty of later-life love, something I’ve witnessed firsthand
By Donna Sapolin
Originally Posted On April 30, 2013
Donna Sapolin is the vice president, editorial director and general manager of Next Avenue. Follow Donna on Twitter @stylestorymedia.
Superstar Justin Timberlake may not be front and center for boomers. Frankly, the 32-year-old former front man of the boy band 'N Sync might have even dropped off the radar of his younger fan base but for his roles in films like The Social Network and appearances on Saturday Night Live, which included songs with SNL regular Andy Samburg that focused on a certain male part in a box. After all, Timberlake created only two albums in the last 10 years.
But on March 19, Timberlake released his third album, The 20/20 Experience, a neo-soul collection of seven-minute-plus songs featuring his signature falsetto croon backed up by lush orchestral surges. And, in so doing, the pop artist gave people of all ages good reason to stand up and take note, not only of his music but of what he seems to understand about life and love — namely, its impact over a lifetime.
The record quickly rose to the top of the charts, selling 1.29 million copies in two weeks and becoming the year’s best-selling album. You might have seen Target’s commercial for an exclusive, deluxe edition of the album, which showed the pop star making a surprise personal appearance on the set and shocking super fans who had been invited to sing “Mirrors,” one of two bonus tracks released as singles.
The song’s lyrics express how a deep love between two people imprints their very being, how those we carry in our hearts, minds and souls shape our core and our outer behaviors, how the impact of a loved one ripples through our life forevermore.
The “Mirrors” video, by Italian photographer and director Floria Sigismondi, chronicles a couple's lifelong love affair and is dedicated to Timberlake’s grandparents, Sadie and William, who were married for 63 years. (William died in December 2012.) The visuals, which cut back and forth between the past and present, express the arc of a relationship from youth through old age, showing that a deep-seated bond lasts well after life ends — along with memories, both joyful and painful.
I was moved by the video’s narrative and the stunning lined faces of the actors who portray the couple in older age. One reason the video gripped me is because it reminds me of another amazing love story — my mother’s.
After her 17-year marriage to my father and a second 25-year-long one to another man (both ended in divorce), she spent six years on her own. And though she dated during that period, she finally stopped focusing on marriage, which her parents had taught her was more vital than her own well-being.
Not long after she turned 65, she was out for a walk with a girlfriend and the two of them started talking to a couple on the path about a book they had been discussing. My mother ended up chatting with the fellow and when he mentioned he was from a small community that related to the book’s topic, it rang a bell for my mom. “Oh, my very first boyfriend lived there,” she said. “I was 16 at the time. Did you know him?” When she told him the name, the guy said that he not only knew him but was friends with him, that he was a professor at a prominent Midwestern university and that his wife had recently died.
He returned the call and she responded as soon as she got back from her trip. Remarkably, they’ve been inseparable ever since — they’re going on 13 years together.
The happenstance way in which their reconnection occurred still makes me shake my head in disbelief. But what is even more extraordinary to me is how beautiful their relationship is and the sense of destiny, possibility and hope I feel whenever I’m around them. Like any couple, they have their glitch-filled moments but, overall, they embody for me what Timberlake describes in both the lyrics and video of "Mirrors." I sense that they truly reflect each other's energy and light.
In the first verse he sings:
Aren't you somethin' to admire, cause your shine is somethin' like a mirror ?And I can't help but notice, you reflect in this heart of mine ?If you ever feel alone and the glare makes me hard to find ?Just know that I'm always parallel on the other side.
And here’s the relevant part of the chorus:
And I'll tell you, baby, it was easy Comin' back into you once I figured it out? You were right here all along? It's like you're my mirror? My mirror staring back at me ?
My mom and her mate both feel that the timing of their reconnection was exactly what it needed to be — that they had to experience certain things and complete various tasks before their relationship could take flight and flourish.
They rediscovered each other after a great deal of personal evolution had taken place. This gave them the solid foundation required for making the most of their already existent bond and becoming the best version of themselves.
What rules their interactions today are qualities and choices known to drive happiness whether one is in an intimate relationship or not: kindness, patience, deep listening, forgiveness, knowing what’s worth dwelling on and what isn’t.
In both the female character in the "Mirrors" video and in my mom, I see a timeless, physical beauty as well as an inner radiance rooted in their responses to life. But more important, both the fictional and the real-life woman have worked on shaping the kind of authentic relationship that can help them withstand anything that life rains down on them.