A baby boomer’s life. What to do with it now?

The other day, out of the blue, this piece came to us at BoomerCafé from a boomer in Macungie, Pennsylvania, named Ted Silar. Not to put too big a description on it but it’s pretty much the story of Ted’s life. Reading through it, there are shades of many of our lives. We found it interesting. Even instructive. We hope you will too.

I am a musician, a writer, an artist, an inventor. I have been doing these things all my life. In between my day jobs.

I dropped out of college in 1971 because I wanted to see the world.

That I did. Or at least the U.S. I lived in Nashville, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Yosemite, Austin, and elsewhere.

But I had to work so hard to make a living without a degree that it was really hard to also work on my art.

I had to poke away at it, bit by bit, like an ant, grain of sand by grain of sand, over the many years.

I finally went back to school in my thirties. It took nearly 12 years to get my PhD in English. I was 46. And writing a doctoral thesis really puts a dent into the time and energy you need to write short stories and compose songs.

I graduated just fine. I am a Doctor! (Take two Shakespeare sonnets and call me in the morning.) Whatever they do, they can’t take that away from me.

But of course, at my age, I will never get tenure. I am the eternal adjunct.

Thus, I live the wonderful paradox of always having work and never having money.

There is a bright side, though. After a little health scare, I decided it was now or never. First, over the course of six months, I finished my Symphony for Strings. In my pajamas, while recovering. I thought of the 2nd movement of my first symphony as my requiem while I was writing it. But I was just being self-pitying. Now I find it rather uplifting to listen to.

Then I spent a whole year, at age 64, pushing everything to the side (except for parental care for my 90-something parents, still living in their own home), and starving as usual, putting my life’s work up on the internet, and creating a website to showcase it. One benefit of the often annoying computer revolution is that music software has finally gotten good enough that I can create and record a pretty good facsimile of a symphony without having a symphony orchestra on hand. Oh, would that they had had that when I was young!

So I put albums of my original rock ‘n’ roll, my folk music, my blues, and my symphony up on CDBaby, which got them on YouTube and Spotify. I formatted and self-published four novels and a book of short stories on Kindle and Smashwords, in both e-book and paperback formats. WHEW! was that a lot of work. Have you had this experience of having to constantly learn new apps and software and protocols just to get something up on the internet, and then, if you go away from it for a few weeks, you’ve forgotten it all and have to re-learn it all over again — and then they go and change the software on you!!)

I created digital versions of my artworks and put them up on Etsy. And then I remembered I had a bunch of drawings of inventions that I had worked up for Quirky. A waste of time. Sites like that are like motivational speakers. They make their money from your lack thereof. I decided to give up on trying to market them and instead just make them available to the world for free, hoping some day just to see somebody manufacture something I invented. Money is beside the point at this point.

What a job. It was like climbing a mountain one step a day. It might not sound like so much. But believe you me, it was.

It’s kind of ridiculous. Now I am 65 and I feel like my life is just beginning. I feel sharp as a tack. I feel like I have finally mastered my crafts. I finally know what I am doing!

But the world seems to be herding me out to pasture big time.

And so here we stand. Now that it’s all up and running. What to do with it all?

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2 Comments

  1. I definitely relate to the challenges, and joys of rediscovering your creative side late in life. Just discovering the apps that facilitate DIY is challenging, to say nothing of what is always a steep climb to learn and recall how to use them. Right now, struggling with all the latest software to build our new website, I often find myself saying, “why is everything so hard!” But my life as a sculptor and writer is much richer than I ever imagined. The connections, yes, even friendships, that have grown with readers has given me the greatest pleasure. What to do with it all? I’ve found helping others smooth out that mountain is a good thing. In a writers’ group and several volunteer projects I’ve been able to pass some of on my knowledge to others. And once I get this website done, I’ll have another couple “credits” I can share.

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