Take a walk back in time with me; WAY back, for some of us – to our first grade classroom. We’re perched on the edge of our minuscule, hard wooden chairs, hands splayed across the graffiti etched surface of the low tabletop before us, eyes sparkling as we eagerly watch the teacher – the ART teacher! – approach us with an array of exciting materials. Bright, primary colors of paint, construction paper, and crayons. Jars of thick, white paste, scooped out with Popsicle sticks into our own individual portions. Squares of fabric, lengths of yarn, sparkly glitter. And then we were free to create! The possibilities were endless, and the end result was sure to earn a place of honor on the fridge or mantel.
If fond memories like these are your most recent attempts at creative endeavors, it’s high time to recreate them! I recently shared on a LinkedIn post an article from Senior Planet that discusses the link between creativity and the aging brain, and makes the comparison to the creative process of youth, when our most important task was to PLAY: to learn through our senses, through experimental interaction with the world around us. A process that, sadly, morphs into a much more rigid, structured, self-conscious state of mind. We believe that maturity requires leaving behind playfulness, imagination, creativity. There’s work to be done, deadlines to meet, responsibilities to keep!
And yet, as the years mount up, we have less to prove to the world around us, are more comfortable in our own skin, and can view life from the vantage point of decades of experiences and the lessons learned throughout. And hopefully, we’re settling into a more relaxed approach, one that allows time for deeper development into who we are and who we’d like to be (when we grow up) and to experience the simple joys of creative “play”.
Knowing that creativity and the arts are enormously beneficial throughout aging, I’m determined to immerse myself in them as much as possible, whether that’s touring museums, appreciating the exquisite beauty of my beloved glass art, or creating landscape art of my own in my garden. As Georgia O’Keefe used to say, “I seek to fill space in a beautiful way.” I invite and encourage you to do the same. Just don’t eat the paste.