Monday, February 25, 2013

Never Too Old for Art & Adventure

Sometimes I can't believe I'm so old.

I see the "where are they now" slide shows on HuffingtonPost or TMZ and nothing makes you feel older than seeing a greying cast of 90210.  Or when I notice the list of celebrities in their 50s and Sheryl Crow is on the list.  What?  Or when I get excited about an issue of MORE magazine that yes, I now subscribe to, comes in the mail.

It's such a weird age this late 30s almost 40...old but still young. Old enough to really understand the importance of sleep and comfortable pants, but young enough to want to shop at Forever 21; old enough to have real experience and wisdom, but young enough to feel like I don't know anything and need someone older to be in charge sometimes.

Don't Call It A Syndrome
"Maybe I'm too old.  Am I too old to try and be a writer?," I cried to Tim when I called him one disastrous morning after dropping the kids off at school. 

Aforemetnioned morning went something like this (after staying up way late working on a project that I was actually getting paid for):
Exhausted-ly making lunches for the kiddos and trying to get them ready for school, editing a writing piece that I had to send to a sponsor, picking the toddler up after he fell, calling the school to let them know one of my kids had Strep and wouldn't be there, tripping over the mess in the living room, misspelling a word in a Facebook status update to promote a blog post, burning the bacon....feeling like I was failing at everything.  I mean come on, who burns bacon?

My super supportive husband reassured me that I wasn't too old for a lot of things and that I needed to be patient with life. He went on to tell me things I knew like no one can do everything all at once, there will be time to do the things I want, be patient, I'm mostly just tired from lack of sleep not being old and a lot of people burn bacon.  Okay I totally didn't know a lot of people burn bacon and I think he was lying to make me feel better.  And it did.

When I was graduating from college with a degree in communications and a heart full of hope, someone (an older, wiser mentor) told me that we all have to get over our dreams.  She said we have to come to the realization that we aren't going to be on Broadway and get on with our life.  She called it the "Broadway Dancer Syndrome."  "It's called being realistic and practical," she lectured.

Now, that I'm almost 40, you know what I think of her syndrome?  I think it's crap.  I get the fact that we can't all be dancers on Broadway, but why can't we have dreams, bucket lists, crazy sounding aspirations and goals?

Now, that I'm almost 40, I find every late-in-life-discovery story inspiring.  Ray Ramano recently told the story (at the Kennedy Center Honors, not to me personally) of how he was a stand up comic working the circuit and after doing David Letterman's show got the call.  The call that offered him a TV show and changed his life.  He was 38, married with three kids, living in Brooklyn.  Julia Child didn't write her first cookbook until she was almost 50!  Or what about the Grandma Moses story--after she turned 76, Moses began painting after arthritis rendered her fingers unable to do embroidering, her usual artistic outlet.  A collector noticed the paintings at a store near her home and, as the story goes, bought them all, then traveled to her home and bought the rest.  The next year, the grandmother's work was on display in the Museum of Modern Art.

I'm not going for world domination, I just want to write and make a few bucks.  Okay, and someday I want to be a background singer/dancer or tambourine player for a band and run the New York City marathon.  Don't tell me I'm too old.  Don't tell me it can't happen.  Don't tell me it's a syndrome.

Art In The Everyday
A million years ago, I was a student in London, England.  On my own, half-way around the world at age 20 was a pretty thrilling feeling.  Discovering the world, discovering myself.  

My art history professor was an amazing older British woman with a high-pitched voice that was a cross between Julia Child and Dame Edna.  As we toured the great museums of London looking at the art, she would give her own critiques such as "well, this lad must have been completely pissed when he painted this" with a hearty laugh (pissed=drunk in British slang, not mad painters, drunk painters, hahaha).

One day while we were at the National Museum, she spoke very seriously about traveling and adventure.  "Life will send you in many different directions and paths, but I believe you'll be back," she said.  "Once you get the adventure bug, it never leaves you."

As she spoke, I nodded, fully confident that I would be backpacking through the rest of Europe the next year and then settling in New York city with an amazing writing gig after college.  Well, of course, the directions and paths of my life took me on a different route.  Not quite as glamorous, but definitely full of everyday adventure and fun.
This weekend I found a poster of a Van Gogh I bought in London all those years ago.  We decided to hang it on the staircase wall so the kids could be greeted by art every morning as they came down for breakfast and encourage them to find art and adventure in their everyday. 

My professor was right, I will be back, it might be London via Epcot but it will be an adventure.  Just because I'm getting older doesn't mean it's over--the adventures or the dreams.    Now it also means I get to share them with my children and show them they too can dream, pursue their passions big and small and find their own adventures.

This whole ride down memory lane was inspired by my friend Caitlyn Kuskowski.  She works at the play center where Wade goes to chill with his toddler friends.  Caitlyn is 18, wide-eyed and excited. She is about to embark on a grand adventure of her own and it's so much more than touring art museums in England.  Caitlyn is traveling to Thailand to volunteer and work with people that live in the hill tribe communities and with refugees.  She'll be building community and classrooms, teaching people about healthy lifestyles and sustainability and so much more.

In this world of entitled teenagers and twenty-somethings, as a much older woman (her elder really), I find Caitlyn so inspiring and reassuring.  She is a college student who works several jobs and is raising money to go on her trip.  Good kids with big dreams and a crazy great work ethic do exist. I feel good knowing her.  She inspires my memories of dreams I used to have and still do have (I told you I'm not too old).  She is also an inspiring example of what I want for my own kids and the adventures they will have and the good they will do in the world. 

If you'd like to learn more about Caitlyn's story or want to donate money to help her on her adventure click here.

What are your dreams?  Who inspires you?

1 comment:

  1. YES! What's the point of living if we don't DO something with our lives?! All of our life, not just until we're 30!