Wednesday, October 9, 2013

When I Grow Up

I discovered the Narnia books when I was 24. Harry Potter and The Hunger Games were published long after I had turned 11 and 16 respectively. So I never harbored secret wishes to receive a letter from an owl or looked behind dusty coats in wardrobes for a path to a secret wonderland. 

But being visited by Gandalf at 50. Now that, that is still possible.

For many years growing up, I had pegged the 20s and 30s to be a person's most productive time, the prime of their life.

When I turned 40, I realized I didn't know enough, hadn't done enough. But society assured me 40 was the new 30. So I embraced the idea, downplaying my eyesight that seemed to have worsened overnight, and the aches that were sneaking up on me. I tried new things! Took up martial arts! Wore increasingly brighter clothing! Got cataract surgery!

Now 50 is looming. And I see attempts in the media to pass 50 off as the new 30. Um. 50 is the new 30 like orange is the new black.

But, that doesn't mean I am ready to give up learning and doing new things. I do, however, admit to a certain sadness that veers towards hopelessness in my writing. I feel as if I am still swimming upstream, wondering when the steepness will level out. My arms are tired and my eyes drift often to the side of the stream that promises rest.

Then a writing friend shared this article from the New Yorker last week. 

It's not that I believe I will attain the stature of a genius (just writing that sentence embarrasses me, as if I needed to even state it) but it is rather comforting to know that learning and creating can indeed go on for much longer that I had imagined, that just because I'm past the magical period of my 20s and 30s doesn't mean I should give up. I may not have the strength to paddle hard but my muscles have gained stamina from constant practice.

So, bring it, 50s! I'm ready.

Just as soon as I find my reading glasses.

1 comment:

Davin Malasarn said...

Has your birthday passed since you wrote this post? If so, happy birthday!

The New Yorker article is fantastic. Thanks so much for pointing it to me. I've always felt like a late bloomer. I'm often slow to pick up new knowledge and ideas. I think my mode of learning is tied to my emotions, and I don't trust that I know something until a good amount of time has passed. The idea that there are conceptual artists and artists that learn during the process makes so much sense. Is that why I can't outline? Is that why I can paint (where you are constantly making adjustments on the canvas) but I can't develop photographs (where you have to go in with some plan in mind)? And, if so, do I have something to look forward to when I finally bloom? :)