My photo for me, art and photography.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Old People.

I find as I get older, I am growing increasingly impatient and frustrated with old people. Don't get me wrong, I love the white hair brigade dearly, and if they take a bit longer fumbling in their purses for the right change for the bus, that's just fine with me. What is really starting to get my goat is people hiding behind their age as an excuse for not doing something. "I'd love to [insert thing here]...but I'm too old".

The one that bugs me the most is "I'd love to learn to paint"
"Well, what's stopping you?" I ask. The reply? "I'm too old".

How the hell can you be too old to paint? What they're really saying is 'I'd love to learn, but I'm scared it won't come naturally and I'll be disappointed at myself, and will look like an idiot' or 'I can't be bothered to learn, I want to pick up a brush and instantly be able to paint like Constable'. Psssh! Who doesn't? If that's what they feel, then they should just say so, and people like myself would be more than happy to give them a hand. If we didn't have to work at art, and work damn hard at learning and having fun and experimenting and getting better gradually, what would be the point? One of the main points of art for me (aside from conveying a thought or emotion) is constantly striving to be better. In my opinion, 'too old' is an excuse on par with 'my dog ate my homework'.

One of my best friends died a few days before her 18th birthday, and if there is anything I've learned from her, it is that life is FAR too short to sit around waiting for other people, or waiting for 'one day'. If you want to do something, do it. Even if you're scared, you grab it by the shoulders and give it a damn good shake. You could be hit by a bus tomorrow. I'm fed up with people in their 60s, 70s, 80s.. saying 'I wish I learned to do this when I was younger but I'm too old now' Why do you have to be young to do things? There was a guy a few weeks ago, 95 years old, did a parachute jump with his grandson. When asked why? he said 'because I could'. What good does kicking yourself about not doing things in the past do? Too old? If your eyes are bad, put your glasses on, if your hands shake, take it slow, or incorporate it into your style - use it to your advantage. If you're kicking yourself now about not doing something in the past, how's it going to feel when you're 108 and physically incapable of doing it. Don't waste your time worring about being too old and hiding behind your age as an excuse because you're nervous about failing.

I know it's easy for a 23 year old to say, but the way I see it is like this: You're still breathing, right? Worry about being too old when you're dead.


Ralph Ivy said...

I appreciate your take on old (older) people. And what you say is true for some of us. I do find people my age (and younger) who seem to have given up on life. From the expressions on their faces, all appears to be gloom and despair. But many do hold on - taking one day at a time, each as a gift. (Like the gentleman jumping.)

"Giving up", unfortunately, can strike at all ages. Broadly speaking, one aspect of age has always intrigued me. It deals with art. I have long wondered why I can give any kid in the first years of school a box of crayons and say "draw me a apple!" (or a fox jumping over the moon) and the child will smile, and immediately begin to draw. But that same child, by 5th or 6th grade, given the same crayons and same project, often will answer, "I can't draw."

We do, early, start to set limits for ourselves. Many of us, thankfully, do find our own way around these hurdles and find our own paths.

I use my art, my humor, to carry me forward, carry me on. To today.
Today is mine.

Thank you.

Tash said...

I have never understood that either - about the kids! I have to say that I was one of those kids though - throughout school 'I cant draw' 'I can't paint'... then I got to 17, saw a picture I liked, thought to myself 'self: that would look really nice as a painting' And the only way I could think of to get it painted was to do it myself, so I did! And it was curtains from there really!

I think school has a lot to answer for - because you always get those kids who are natural artists who draw amazing things and get lots of praise from the teachers, whereas other kids who aren't so natural, or whose natural style isn't what is thought of as 'good' traditionally, because it might be a bit abstract or naiive or something- and don't get so much praise because of that see their work and think 'well, I'm rubbish compared to her/him, so I'm just not going to bother' - which is a shame, and that self-labelling is something that, when applied at such a young age, is very very hard to overcome. I don't know what schools are like in the states (or what age grades 5-6 are) but in my primary school (age 2-11), anyway, which was a private one and supposed to be good - the gifted children got all the attention from the teachers while the rest of us were left by the wayside to get on with it as best we could!