Sunday, October 1, 2006

Older People Make Better (fill in the blank)

I was snuggled into bed early with my book The Way of Transition by William Bridges when I came across this passage that I must share with you.

Seeking reassurance, I started noticing examples of people who did new and impressive things when they were ... older. Michelangelo had been the chief architect of St. Peter's Basilica when he was between the ages of seventy-one and eighty-nine. Claude Monet didn't even start his great series of water lilies paintings until he was seventy-three. Grandma Moses took up painting when she was seventy-eight. Marian Hart, who didn't learn to fly until she was in her fifties, flew solo across the Atlantic when she was eighty-four.

Edith Hamilton, whose books on mythology I had read with such pleasure, had not even started writing on that subject until after she retired as a school principal at sixty-five. She had not visited her beloved Athens until she was in her eighties! At ninety, when she was planning another trip, someone said that it was wonderful that she could take one last trip. "Last, hummmph!" She replied. She took three more trips to the classical world before she died at ninety-five. I picked up such stories like burrs. But I didn't feel very reassured by these people. I wasn't in their league. They must have known something that I didn't. And they had more initiative than I did. I didn't act -- I just imagined.
--William Bridges, The Way of Transition, pp 164-165.

I entered college at the age of 41 to study architecture for the next five years, graduating with a first professional degree B. Arch. cum laude at the age of 46 in 1993. Without my late husband's moral support and encouragement, I would have never taken the challenge to enter the program. When I whined about how old I would be upon graduation, he smiled and asked, "How old will you be if you don't do it?" His reasoning was sound. "How old will I be if I don't?" The answer was, of course, "the same age I'll be if I do." Thus, do I did.

Life being what it is, I tend to forget lessons learned and have to be reminded from time to time. The above passage acts as that reminder tonight. I'll leave you (and me) with that food for thought. Dreams will come.

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