Something rather unexpected happened to me in my mid-fifties, I had an epiphany of sorts, a creative epiphany… I realized I was an artist.
What’s the big deal you might ask? With no background or training in the arts, “artist” was not a word I would have used to describe myself. Don’t artists become engaged in art in school? learn how to draw/paint/act/dance at an early age? major in the arts? and go on to pursue their passion most of their lives? Well…I’ve done none of that.
When I mentioned my epiphany to an old friend he laughed and said, “what do you mean? you’ve always been an artist”. Okay…so how come nobody bothered to tell me?
At age 52, I took up photography. I’ve always taken photos, mostly of the family but, never with the intent of creating art. At 59, I wrote and performed my first play. With no prior experience or training in the theater I got up on stage (several stages) by myself, alone for 90 minutes in front of hundreds of people. That’s probably the craziest thing I’ve ever done!
Looking back, what set things in motion was an identity crisis, my mid-life crisis, that came to a head on my 50th birthday (I’m 66 now). In a nutshell it went down like this … I’ve always had a nagging (okay, maybe obsessive) desire to be “good” at something, really good. Upping the ante even more, I wanted to feel passionate about that something too. Most of my adult life I didn’t think I had anything close it. It caused me a lot of grief to say the least.
On the cusp of turning 50, I had a nightmarish realization: more time had passed behind me than I had left ahead. Those things I dreamed of doing, hopes I had for myself, if I hadn’t done them by 50, they weren’t going to happen. Crazy thinking, I know, but I’m a pessimist at heart, you know, “the glass is half-empty” kind of person…that’s how we think.
It took me a couple of years to pull myself out of that funk. Fortunately, instead of doing something totally crazy like buying a sports car or having an affair, I did something else, I picked up a camera. Photography IS that something I’m good at, I’m passionate about too, and it was a life changing discovery. Photography IS my means of self-expression.
Clearly life was NOT over at 50… it seems it was only getting started. I am an artist in the broadest sense of the word, it is who I am. I must “create”.
Did I just say that? …that hardly sounds like me!