By Bob Ramsey, Guest Columnist
I recently read this quote by actor-director John Cassavetes: “No matter how old you get, if you can keep the desire to be creative, you’re keeping the man-child alive.”
It got me to thinking. I believe there’s a little artist in all of us, regardless of age. (I didn’t say a “good” artist, but an artist nonetheless.)
Art is age friendly. There is no shelf life on creativity. People can keep creating as long as they live. Remember Grandma Moses? That’s why many senior living residences offer art programs, including songwriting, storytelling, play writing and more. Even people 80, 90 or older can participate. It makes sense because scientific studies suggest that creative expression reduces pain, loneliness and the need for medication in seniors.
I think we all like to create things — whether it’s a bookcase, a birdhouse, a ceramic bowl or origami. For example, my wife creates miniatures and centerpieces. I fumble with word arranging. Other people make quilts, create woodcarvings or tie flies for fishing. There’s no limit on ways to be creative.
Fortunately, we live in a community and metropolitan area where there are many creative opportunities for older adults, such as the art classes at Lenox, the St. Louis Park Community Band, the Friends of the Arts that promotes art for life through scholarships and inter-generational activities, the Artsy Smartsy program in St. Paul that offers affordable classes for seniors in all art media and the Minnesota Creative Arts and Aging Network, a nonprofit initiative for expanding art experiences for older adults. But if you don’t like any of these outlets, you can create your own.
The point is that the later years are a great time (even if it’s your first time) to paint, build, bake, compose, sew and create something interesting, unique and possibly beautiful. As seniors, we have the time, the freedom and the feelings and experiences of a lifetime to express.
Better yet, we don’t have to worry what others think of our “masterpieces.” We’re beyond that. After all, what can they do to us? Take away our artistic license? Besides, we don’t create for others, anyway, but for the most important audience of all — ourselves!
You’re never too old to get creative. After a life and career of staying inside the lines, this may be your chance — your last, best chance — to break out, break loose and break free.
So why not exercise your creative muscles. Try something different. You may surprise your family, your friends and yourself with your talent. And have a lot of fun too. Got paints?
Bob Ramsey is a lifelong educator, writer and advocate for vital aging. He can be reached at 952-922-9558 or by e-mail at [email protected]