My thanks to everyone who emailed me or commented on my recent post about my Reflections and Goals. I was surprised to hear from other artists in my age group who feel much the same and I am understanding now that it is a by-product/side-effect of getting older. Wanting to continue to paint or create in some form but for different reasons than when we were younger.
One response to my post was from my artist friend Sue Gill Rose who sent me a bit of beautiful writing done by her then eighty-year-old mother who continued to live a good life for another eighteen years after penning this. I love these thoughts, thank you Sue for your permission to publish this. Note: Sue and her mother share the same name.
ON THE ACCUMULATION OF YEARS
Sue Gill Rose
September 15, 1993
Old age is not a rumor. It sneaks up on you when you are not looking. My youngest grandchild is six. “You are really old,” she says as she looks me over. For me, it seems like nothing at all. I am the same person I have always been - only more so - the little girl walking to school, the busy housewife and mother, the working woman. Each step has made me more accepting and understanding, hopefully a little wiser. At least now I’m able to cope. Experience has taught me about the natural goodness of fellow human beings. I value these eighty years. They have gone by far too fast.
I live alone. There are close friends and neighbors nearby. We live alone together, sharing meals, movies, ideas, good talk, joys, and sorrows. All people should do that everywhere. These life-affirming connections sustain us. My children are grown, there is no husband to nurture, no employer to cater to. Nothing, no, nothing, in the world could be more liberating. Work and study command some time, but travel, good food, and above all, good friends are my treasure.
Life has always led me where things were happening. I have petted whales in the Baja, gone back to school for my master’s degree, become a late baseball fan, met fascinating people including two U.S. presidents, had my 78th birthday in the African outback, broken both arms at the same time, and found hundreds of four-leaf clovers.
Old age is opportunity, not a biological process, but a psychological one. If one has the slightest urge to do something, just do it. Keep your bag packed. The right time to travel is when you have the chance. On trips, you do not have to walk endlessly or see every museum. Just sit on the plaza, have a cool one, and get the feel of the place and the people.
The meaning of life must be to be endlessly grateful for it. Fresh perspectives are always there if you look for them. Energy and hope are on the other side of disappointment and pain. Suffering is basic and a part of humanity like sharps and flats are to music. The point is not to single out individual notes and debate the whys and wherefores, but catch the melody of the whole. When you live a long time, you acquire patience and passion. This is a legacy of aging. Don’t pass judgement, accept things as they are. Did I make mistakes? Hundreds. I did the best I knew at that particular time.
The present is what counts. This very moment is the only time I have. I intend to enjoy it. There is no way I can lose faith and I don’t want to lose steam. Now - NOW - is the time to go for it.
There is a sacred commission to be happy, to breathe and move and bless our own lives and leave a foundation of genuine hope for our children.