Creative Aging

It’s The Old Story

In midlife, boomers are confronted with a dilemma. Do we listen to the prevailing stereotyped beliefs from the past that states all problems of an older person are caused by being older. We can surf google and read about the negative effects of aging. You know the list: wrinkles, depression, dementia, failing knees, bad backs, and it goes on and on. Only recently, people have started to talk about the creative opportunities available as we age. Yet, overall, people still believe age is an unmanageable problem. Most say, aging itself is the loss of our ability to grow because we are no longer able.

I think something is missing. This aging story is too simplistic. I mean, do all the creative qualities of youth and experience disappear when we reach a certain number or look older? Growing up, we were all forced to choose between being creative and falling under the weight of a problem. Reaching an age does not dictate anything, but an invented story  can be positive, or negative. You get to choose which one. How great is that? As I said in an earlier post, Boomers really are special.

Rollo May, in his book The Courage To Create, said creativity was “the process of bringing something new into being.” Creativity doesn’t stop life from presenting issues for us to face at any age. But what it does do, is allow us to get involved in, and experiment with, the opportunities life presents –– even if they look like problems.

Then again, everyone knows someone like my Aunt Polly. Before my uncle died, she could be a rigid critical person. But after his death, she started to insult and even yell at people. Once she went out to the curb and yelled at the garbage man for not picking up her refuse by 10:00 AM. She got so abusive the family began to avoid her. Eventually they stopped including her in family get togethers.

Some people say, she didn’t have the ability to create good relationships. Others said, she was unable to deal with life’s disappointments. Did she lack the creativity to adjust to a new life without her husband? I don’t think it was creativity she lacked. She was able to create enemies with the garbage man and just about everyone else. Once I saw her scream at a young neighbor who made cookies for her, because they were not chocolate chip. Her problem was she couldn’t let herself grieve her lost husband. She was bitter and angry about it and projected that onto everyone else. She went down with the weight of losing one way of life and needing to finding another. It didn’t have anything to do with age.

What Story Are You Creating?

Creativity can be used positively or negatively. While Polly went down with her loss, others grieve and build new lives. For example, Pete retired from being a dentist at 65. By chance, in his early 20′s, he and a favorite Aunt, went to an English flower show. He spent most of the show looking at the roses.  Then, when he retired, he started to think about what to do with his time. Unfortunately almost as soon as he retired, his wife had a stroke and died.  A year later, while walking in a book store he saw a book on growing roses. That was it. He started to experiment the first year and soon he built his own greenhouse. He filled it with every variety and color of rose you can imagine. He was so good, folks came over just to see his flowers! Later, he started giving tours and teaching his cultivation methods to garden clubs. In his 70′s, he hit the flower show circuit.

Start Creating Your Positive Story

Can you allow yourself to get involved with the new challenges life presents? Being older doesn’t mean you have to stop using the creative juices that are bubbling in your soul. Just use it to your advantage. Try being like Pete and look at what moves you. You don’t even have to wait. You can start today. Let me know what you come up with.


One comment on “Creative Aging

  1. Bob Mauterstock on said:

    great post, Lois. We can live any story we choose to live. We can live like Floyd Crellin, who I met last Saturday. He just had his 101st birthday. Last year on his 100th birthday an article appeared in the Boston globe showing him ballroom dancing at the Goddard House in Brookline, MA where he lives. Four years ago he broke his hip. His physical therapist used dance as part of his rehabilitation. He told everyone at his 100th birthday party, “My physical therapist taught me to walk and I taught her to dance.”

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