It happened again a week ago. I was at a bridal shower sitting next to a woman, in her fifties I'd guess, whom I didn't know. We started our get-to-know-you chat in the friendly way one does at a bridal shower. She told me about her career as the owner of an advertising company. She graciously asked about what sort of work I do and I told her that I'm a painter. She asked for some specifics and I told her that I paint paintings, you know, an artist painter.
She was a person who thinks before she talks so she spoke carefully when she said, "I want to build a studio at my home so I can make drawings."
Many years ago I was at a holiday dinner and I was speaking to a successful attorney twenty years older than me. At the time he was in his mid-fifties. Out of the blue he told me-"I know I'm a writer. I want to write a book."
When people find out I'm an artist they are sometimes moved to reveal these hidden dreams to me. These aren't young people on the cusp of flying out of the nest grasping at dreams that are winging by them. These are affluent older people who are living the lives most people on the planet can only imagine.
The reality of a writer's life or a painter's life is quite different from what I suspect these late in life dreams are made of. Only those of us who have been on the lifelong trail of creative endeavor know the reality-not the fantasy, but the reality of this kind of life. The reality is not years, but decades of working alone. The shredding of canvases or reams of paper. The relentless rejections by those who have the power to reject but no talent to create. Money that comes not in rivers, but dribbles.
Most of us begin our hike up Mt. Creativity when we are young, resilient and optimistic. One day we look at the calendar and it is no longer 1988 but 2018. We've been writing or painting for 30, 40 or 50 years.
This life is not a luxury we come to when we are 55 and affluent-this is a life we begin to live when we are young because it is who we are. In a funny way, we don't choose this life-rather
this life chooses us.