In my growing age, I am always amazed at certain things. Among those things is the cynicism that seems to gain momentum, as years pass, where youth is often equated with creativity and exploration. Many cling to this fierce belief that states that there is a age and place for everything. I don’t agree. Never have, and never will.
I think I live the belief that anything is possible at any stage of your life you choose to pursue it for the first time or continue to do it. We have so many great examples of folks who had began a creative pursuit late in the game and gained attention for it, but even more who have done so and maybe not gained fame and fortune, but gained or sustained a fulfilling creative lifestyle that has enriched their days on this earth. Some of my personal favorites who exemplify this are writer/yogi/visual artist Ananda Leeke, dancer Judith Jamison, my late birth grandmother, author Ira Mae Lewis who published her first birth in her late 60’s, and my late great-grandmother Susie Lewis who wrote her own personal memoir and who did aerobics, dance and music well into her old age (in the 50’s and 60’s when it wasn’t popular like now), often with my mother pinned to her side.
For me, I performed, engaged in creative writing and enjoyed new things as a young person. Finding joy in music and writing early on led me to realize that I would most likely be doing this for the rest of my life. When I encounter people who knew me young who seem surprised I still perform or am actively engaged in the arts in addition to doing my other interests like event planning and educational consulting, I am a bit surprised. But, then I get it. For many, the belief is that the arts are for the young. Like everything, I guess, if its not bringing in the bucks and allowing you live off it solely, what is its worth?
While it is true I haven’t earned much money off of performing and writing, the reality is is that my artistic endeavors have been the sole energy often times that has allowed me go on in my life– moving from one place of stagnation to the next stage of growth and expansion. The arts, for me, have never been about the liklihood of “blowing up” as a household name, but, rather, growing as an artist who is able to infuse my creatiions with dimension that is born from my personal memories, interpretations and takes on certain things. I will know for a fact that I will be doing some form of the arts until I die.
Recently, I became interested in visual art and will be enrolling in photography classes this Spring thanks to a wonderful xmas gift from my partner who supports my artistic ventures. I also have fallen in love with collage art and found solace painting and designing wood items–two things I never did much of as a young person.
All in all, I want to spread the word that the arts are more than just a vehicle to getting someone to validate you as being someone important. The arts can inform, heal, transfom, and entertain others, but, most importantly, they sustain in the artist the very qualities that one treasures in youth– hope, excitement and newness— in each new creation.
(For the Unconvinced) Did You Know:
1. Alfred Hitchcok whose film work is renowned did not even get into film until well into his 30’s.
2. Al Jarreau – The famous jazz vocalist didn’t release his first album until he was 38.
3. Julia Child – Her first book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, was published when she was 49. Her television debut came a few years later when she was in her early 50s.
4. Mark Twain whose first work appeared when he was 30. His more well known reads not published until in his 40’s.
5. Laura Ingalls Wilder – Her first book, Little House in the Big Woods came out when she was 65. It was the first of her 8-volume Little House series.
6. Stan Lee – He was in his early 40s when he created Spider-Man and most of his other legendary superheroes. His partner, artist Jack Kirby, started drawing The Fantastic Four when he was 44.
7. Colonel Sanders – Didn’t franchise Kentucky Fried Chicken until he was 65.
8. Moms Mabley- Comedienne who reached her heydey as a comedienne as a senior citizen
9. Comedienne Whoopi Goldberg became known to us as she entered her 30’s through stand-up and her renowned role in “The Color Purple”.
If you know more, add to the list…
(NOTE: This post originally appeared on LiberatedMuse.com in 2009. It was a year after starting the Liberated Muse online site. I had just started getting back into performing and writing and was excited about the possibilities. Since then, I have grown so much artistically and continue to affirm the message shared. I’d love to hear your feedback.)
Khadijah Z. Ali-Coleman is a writer and editor of several books, including the anthology Liberated Muse Volume I: How I Freed My Soul. She offers editing, proofreading and creative coaching services to authors who self-publish. She is also a long-time educator and communications professional whose work has been featured by FOX News, National Geographic, Pacifica Radio, NPR, and The Washington City Paper.
Contact her at KhadijahOnline@gmail.com for serious business inquiries.
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