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Monday, January 22, 2007

Old Hands, New Beginnings

Photo by 1115 on Flickr.

I have a favorite anecdote I tell people when they’re despairing.

Long ago, I’d read an article in Art News about an accomplished woman painter. By chance, she sat in as a substitute teacher for a friend hers who taught a pottery class. After that one class, she was hooked. She changed media at the advanced age of 70. She became a sculptor and is now known for making large scale urns that are often placed in the landscape. Moral of the story: it’s never too late.

I’ve tried to find out more about her, but I’ve long since thrown away that magazine. Internet research has resulted in nothing. The world of large scale clay urns in the landscape is bigger than you’d think. But it doesn’t matter who she is. She can exist as an idea, and that is enough.

She’s the idea that your future is separate from your age and that we live in a world of unlimited possibilities. She’s the idea that our worlds can shift at any time, as long as we’re open and willing. She's the idea that it takes guts to really live. And she’s the idea that we can change, due to a chance event, our own wills, or a little bit of both.

The story of the woman potter is compelling because her discovery occurs at the age of 70, and for most, that's a long way away. This is proof of the ironic truth that it's the space of not knowing the future gives us hope. It’s when you think you know everything, when you think that life is already mapped out and inescapable, that things become really dismal.

Related posts: Ms. Annie Proulx.


Spandrel Studios said...

Risking change can be so hard that it's inspiring to see people who've done it successfully. The story you share is a great example - and it's beautifully written, too.

I always think of Julia Child, who didn't start teaching the world how to cook until she was in her 50s.

Your moral that "it's never too late" has a corollary: just do it!