Darn, I’m getting (got?) old! Up until a few years ago, other people’s wrinkles seemed far in the future. Now that I’m in my early seventies, getting older has become an inevitable and often nagging companion. No surprise that as a writer I would feel compelled to explore aging from a humanities perspective.
For the last few decades, I have developed a strong desire to age gracefully…a quest that has motivated me to resolve many painful childhood memories while trying to welcome growing older with a smile and no regrets. Therefore, I was gratified when earlier this year our therapist complimented me on how well I seemed to be navigating the challenges of the pandemic. But, yes, she cursed me!
A few weeks later, I decided to take a well-deserved writing break after spending my enforced quarantine COVID-time writing 36 articles followed by three books including Personal Growth in the Time of COVID and My Fifty Years of Buddhist Practice. What I didn’t consider was that the quality of my emotional life had been significantly enhanced by writing as a meaningful form of sharing and cognitive therapy. No longer having that creative outlet made a subtle but noticeable difference in my mental state.
Barbara Bagan, PhD, Professor of Expressive Arts Therapy at Ottawa University in Phoenix, AZ, has noted, “Current studies in the fields of art therapy, music therapy, and other creative modalities confirm that art can affect individuals in positive ways by inducing both psychological and physiological healing. Therapeutic art experiences can supply meaning and purpose to the lives of older adults in supportive, non-threatening ways” She added, “Throughout history, artists have known that art benefits both the creator and viewer. We all are creative – not just a select few.”
Speaking of aging with grace, I recently came across this from Buddhist philosopher, Daisaku Ikeda, who wrote, “To strive even higher, to do even better—the creative process is a desperate struggle to go beyond what we were yesterday. It is a battle against resting on our laurels, against the fear of losing what we have. It is an adventure into unknown territory.”
93-year-old Ikeda also said, “I believe youth can last a lifetime. Inner youthfulness is not a matter of our physical age. Rather, it is determined by the passion with which we live, the enthusiasm with which we learn, the freshness and energy with which we advance towards our chosen goals in life.”
So here I am, wrinkles and all, digging deep and reaching out once more through writing. And, with great appreciation, twinkling again, too!
Mike Lisagor and his wife, Trude, have lived on Bainbridge Island for over 17 years. He is the author of several books including Personal Growth in the Time of COVID which was published by AHB.