Page of Rainbows © Osho Zen Tarot
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
— Helen Keller
Right up there with telling ourselves we don’t have enough money to survive as artists, the other Big Lie we tell ourselves is that it is too late for us. Julia points out that “I’m too old” is an evasive tactic. She declares that it is always used to avoid facing our fears.
Then there is a flip side. A couple of yesterday’s notables who began their creative endeavors later in life did so after they retired from their “real” jobs. Good for them! But don’t use that as your excuse – because it’s just another deception. Imagine how much more of their work the world might have enjoyed, had they jumped into their calling a little earlier.
Julia notes, “‘I’ll let myself try it when I’m retired’ is an interesting side trip on the same ego-saving track. As a culture, we glorify youth and allow our youth the freedom to experiment. And we disparage our old-timers but allow them the right to be a little crazy.
“Many blocked creatives tell themselves they are both too old and too young to allow themselves to pursue their dreams. Old and dotty, they might try it. Young and foolish, they might try it. In either scenario, being crazy is a prerequisite to creative exploration. We do not want to look crazy. And trying something like that (whatever it is) at our age (whatever it is) would look nuts.”
Hmm. Maybe it’s time to go back and review some of those myths about creativity and artists that we were getting rid of. Do you have to be crazy to be creative? Does being an artist cause craziness? Well, maybe you do have to risk looking foolish or (horrors!) incompetent while you are learning.
Creativity requires stretching out of our humdrum routines and “safe” but conforming lives. It requires loosening our death grip of trying to stay in control. When we do, we find ourselves in timelessness. When we are in the flow of our creativity, we leave our self-consciousness behind. We say we “feel like a kid,” because our artist self is a child who is only aware of curiosity, joy, and the moment.
Yet we so deeply fear seeming childish, inept, or inexperienced. Where does that inner voice of ridicule come from?
“Instead of allowing ourselves a creative journey,” she notes, “we focus on the length of the trip. ‘It’s such a long way,’ we tell ourselves. It may be, but each day is just one more day with some motion in it and that motion toward a goal is very enjoyable.”
So this weekend, I encourage you to spend a little time exploring in your morning pages: what would you do if you were younger and it could be exactly like you would have liked? This can be any age of younger you like.
I hereby wave my magic wand and poof! You get to keep your adult wisdom and memory, but you can become the child who needed and received the encouragement, the music lessons, the scholarship. Or you can be the college student who went (and was welcomed!) in a completely different direction; or the young adult who didn’t have the kids till later, or who had a wonderful Mary Poppins nanny who took fantastic care of them while you did your thing.
What did you need? If you’d had it, what would you have done differently? Where might you be today? Can you bestow any of it on yourself now?
Now, imagine that you are retired, a very comfortable pension flowing in with no worries; your health is terrific (maybe even better than right now!). You are absolutely free. What and who would you be if you didn’t have to worry about your resumé, family obligations, your image, your employment, and your “permanent record?”
Can you begin to see a path beckoning that way now? What adventure is calling to you? How old do you think you have to wait to be, before you have permission?