Who really thinks about aging when young? I didn’t. My parents and my grandparents were old. I loved them but I didn’t think about their inner lives, their hopes, and their dreams. I concluded that they were too ancient to think about anything but where they left their glasses.
Old people were not relevant. Their inevitable decline was assured. Like an aging Plymouth, whose parts were beginning to sputter and whine, they’d mosey off to the junkyard to die. A harsh stereotype, but not an uncommon perception of the time, and some say, one that continues far too frequently today.
Fast forward forty years later. Scientific studies of the aging brain (see Society for Neuroscience) are shattering the myth that age necessarily equals mental decline. Given the appropriate stimulation, that brilliant mass of protoplasm that resides in each of our skulls is capable of continued growth.
In my presumptuous teens and twenties, I assumed “continued growth” ended at the age of 30. Perhaps the insistent inner voice that has compelled me toward creativity is my brain’s plea for stimulation. In “The Creative Age -Awakening Human Potential in the Second Half of Life” by Gene D. Cohen, M.D., Ph.d., (a book I highly recommend), the author argues that the aging adult is uniquely adapted to creativity because of our “life experience” and “long view.”
Dr. Cohen emphasizes that creativity is not exclusive to geniuses, like Albert Einstein or Leonardo da Vinci, but that it resides in each of us:
[Creativity] is the flame that heats the human spirit and kindles our desire for inner growth and self-expression.
Cohen suggests that the creative seeds are quietly waiting underground for a convergence of life’s experiences to reveal the light for growth. When I recall the changes I experienced in the years 2005 through 2011, I realize that this turmoil freed me to take a risk, and to follow my creative calling for writing and photography. My creative reawakening has me thinking in new ways, seeing new ideas and connections, and has given me a way to express myself on a much deeper level. We all have this deepness within us and it may be expressed through learning a new instrument, trying a new recipe, writing a poem or redesigning a room. How our creativity is expressed is uniquely individual and offers a viewpoint that no one else has.