In a recent interview where I asked 5 artists how they make a living from their creativity, one of the interviewees, Jonathan Hardesty (who is also an art teacher) happened to mention that one of the saddest things he sees is “someone who is 65 years old that comes to me saying they’ve always wanted to be an artist.”
Perhaps their parents told them not to do it, or their friends told them it was impossible or they just never pursued it. . . but for whatever reason they often end up regretting that decision for years.
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This got me thinking about how many people put off doing the things they really want to do, and then when they finally find themselves with a bit of spare time (often when they retire), they consider themselves too old to learn a new skill.
It really is sad when people think that their life is over at 60 (or even younger in some cases). The old saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” comes to mind, and it seems that a lot of people really believe it! I see a disturbing tendency for new retirees to write off the rest of their lives, and settle down to spend their remaining years sitting in a chair watching TV.
Well I’m here to tell you that it’s never too late! Whether you’re 25 or 95, there is nothing to stop you from pursuing your creativity and learning something new
Why the “right time” never comes
Take me, for example. I’m 31 years old. Not over the hill by any means, but a lot of people my age are firmly settled into their careers and the idea of retraining in a creative pursuit would be a totally foreign concept.
I was the same way. . . until just recently I’d worked as a web designer for the last 6 years, with an idea in the back of my mind that eventually I would pursue an artistic career, when the time was right.
Then one day I decided that if I kept waiting, the time would never be right. I didn’t want to wake up on my 40th birthday and be no closer to becoming an artist, so I saved up some money, left my web design job and enrolled in an online course in classical art.
It was a scary move, but it felt like the right thing to do, and I’m happy with the choice I made.
But. . . you’re only 31! (you say)
Ok, well then how about my mum? At 62, after working in an office all her life, she has recently decided to start a blog with a little help from me, and eventually intends to write and publish a book. She is also looking into starting a business around her love of craft and textiles.
Still not convinced? Have you heard of Wang Su-Ying? This inspirational 71-year old lady from Taiwan was illiterate for over 50 years, having dropped out of elementary school because her family couldn’t afford the school fees.
At 65, having learned to read and write, she passed her driving test, which enabled her to go to college to study Chinese and art, and she has recently had a book published containing a collection of her paintings.
Or how about John Lowe, who began training in ballet when he was 79 and took to the stage in his first show at the age of 88.
If these people can do it, you can too!
There is an old Chinese proverb that applies to all of us – The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.