Individual Aging: The Red Gate

Thoughts on our own aging…..

Walking through filtered sunlight in the woods glowing with color and texture, we playfully crunch the dry leaves with each step and listen to how the bird calls and sounds of creatures weave together. It is a great day, we are in shape enough to take long walks in the woods with friends, and enjoying getting away from our busy daily lives.

2011-08-20 21.47.14 Then we encounter a closed gate in the middle of the woods. A beautiful, sturdy gate and firmly closed. Years of training surface and we halt, instinctively ” knowing “ that the gate is barring our way, even though it does not appear to be attached to anything.

Reaching a certain age is rather like that; we find our way obstructed, hearing messages about getting old and what we cannot do as a result. Or what we must do instead!

We can follow our training and obey the closed gate message, heeding all that we are no longer supposed to do, or cannot do, or all the things we cannot be. It makes sense because we are 60, 70 or 80 and no-one we knew acted how would be right for us now. Do we accept that the time of adventures and new learning in our life is over?.

Or can we stand back and see that the gate, substantial though it is, is detached and does not actually stop us. There are ways around each side the gate, over the gate, we can even back away from it and go on another path.

 So what will our path look like? It will be good to know which good places to head for, beautiful views not to be missed, streams to ford, wonders of wild life to watch and even where there are banks of a lake to rest on. Also useful will be to know about the slippery slopes, the concealed hazards, the bushes of poison oak lie in wait. A map with many alternate routes would be handy at first and, if enough of us walk them, in time there will be tracks for those behind us to follow.

More to come……







Contexts of the aging individual

Re-Generation : stories of a process.

When I founded  Artworks at Mount Zion Hospital in San Francisco CA, in 1980 there was little understanding that everyone is creative in different ways, and that we continue to be creative as we age.

We now know that expressing our creativity benefits all of us at any age and continues to do so as we get older.

In 1980- an arts organization board member asked “Why would you want to send an artist to work with an 80-year old?”

Thankfully in this decade, we have many answers to that question. I am gratified that the National Endowment for the Arts now has an area of funding for Aging.

This blog offers the reader an account of Arts and Aging over 3+ decades from the perspective of both a professional and, fortunately, a participant. I hope to inspire and inform all those who are interested in Creative, Purposeful Aging either as a career choice or as a road-map for a satisfying life. I want to hear your stories.

I searched for the right word to describe my decades of work, and that of people like me.

Re-GENERATE: (def.) – to restore to a better, higher or more worthy state and this means changing how we as a society see aging.

I have witnessed people in our programs, dismissed as an obsolete group by our society, re-generated into writers, painters, actors, volunteers, mentors to youth, etc and as a result, restored to full confidence that they still have something meaningful to offer others. Their contribution to society is vastly under-rated.

ReGENERATE (def) – to revive, to renew, restore.

How meaningful it has been for me to observe people become revived, renewed and restored as they re-discover talents and dreams after many years and experience the transformation that comes with the re-discoveries.

So WELCOME to the conversation!