One of our favorite subjects on BoomerCafé is boomers who are still reinventing themselves. That’s exactly what Diane Atwood of Gorham, Maine, has written about. She was a local television reporter, but made a decision at the age when most of us retire to go back to school. She calls it, My Late Start.
We should all be lucky enough to have at least one moment of enlightenment during our lives. Mine came during a painting class I took in my 50s called “Painting for the True Blue Beginner.”
One of our assignments was to find a picture of a painting we liked and try to copy it. I chose “Man in a Room” by Paul Cezanne. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but kept trying to paint what I saw.
I’ll never forget the moment my view shifted, literally and figuratively. I was working on the man’s pants and tried to copy a shape on one of the legs. As the instructor had suggested we do, I stepped back to critique my progress and there it was — a wrinkle in the pants. I was astonished and from that moment on, I have been trying to make my own marks.
After that night, I continued to push myself. I took some evening drawing and painting classes and attended a few workshops, including one on the streets of Manhattan, which was a totally intimidating and exhilarating experience.
I began to daydream about quitting my job and going to art school, but at the time, it was an unrealistic yearning. Eventually, at the age of 64, I did quit to become a freelance writer and blogger, which gave me more flexibility to paint, but unfortunately, less income for art classes.
Then I heard a rumor that our local university waived tuition for people over 65. I had been moaning and groaning about turning 65 in a few months and suddenly, I felt joyous! I applied immediately— even had to write two college essays. I was scared, but I knew for sure that I didn’t want to be lying on my deathbed (far into the future, I hope) kicking myself for not trying.
Before I knew it, there I was sitting in the middle of a sea of young people, most not out of their 20s, some not even into them yet. Because I’m still writing and blogging, I only have time to take two courses a semester at most. They might be handing out my diploma at the same moment my ashes are being sprinkled in the flower garden, but as they say, it’s the journey that matters, not the destination.
Two years have passed since I became an art student. I have been given opportunities to push myself way outside my comfort zone over and over again. I am so grateful for all the creative people and challenges that keep coming my way because I dared to take a chance.