Never too old!
For many people, the last half of life becomes an opportunity to realize dreams, to live more creatively, to prioritize and to attend to the most important things.
When I was around nineteen, I was at a convention, staying at a hotel with a group of college students. We were having a drink in the hotel bar when we met an African. He told us he was part Zulu and part Tutsi. He seemed lonely, a little sad (perhaps homesick) and somewhat drunk.
We conversed with him for a few minutes, and then he looked at me with a look that seemed to travel right through me.
He said, with a loud, impassioned voice, that I’m sure most of the bar heard: “Don’t waste time! Be a writer!”
I don’t know if he was a psychic, a sensitive person that saw something in me, or just a drunk. But that cry resonated with me – I had always wanted to be a writer. I obtained an Arts degree in English, made several attempts at becoming an author – starting a hand written novel, back in the time before home computers, writing poetry and sending it off, freelance writing and editing a variety of newsletters. I’ve had jobs that required writing skills – like being an Information Coordinator for a community college.
Apart from a travel article, I didn’t have much luck getting published. So I did other things, never being completely satisfied with any of the jobs.
With marriage and kids, I didn’t feel I had the luxury of being a starving artist – there were bills to pay. I spent thirteen years as Teacher’s Aide – a very rewarding job – and I don’t regret the time spent doing that. At the age of fifty-eight, I got my BC teaching certification and spent another four years teaching inmates in a federal prison. That was also rewarding – and somewhat improbable. Who starts a teaching career at 58? “Never too old!” has been my theme for the last decade.
But, when I started to get pension income and to became more financial stable, I was free to follow my heart. I became an alternative health practitioner – doing Reflexology, Reiki and EFT.
I have recently published my first novel:. The Buddha Technology. In a time when zombie and vampires, action and romance novels seems to be the most successful, it may not be a commercial success. It is a novel about a spiritual journey, of coming of age and self-discovery. I think that it is a novel with a lot of heart, and my friends that have read it agree with that assessment.
I have begun another writing project – this time a young adult series about a group of somewhat nerdy high school students that belong to an environmental group called Green Youth – something that resembles the Boy Scouts, except these kids receive training in ecology and environmental activism – often getting themselves in hot water as they confront irresponsible businesses.
I don’t know if that prophesy I received from the drunk Zulu was a blessing or a curse, but I feel a deep contentment as I sit down each day to do my daily writing. I look forward to having an audience for my work, and to never being one of those bored retirees for whom one day melts into another.
For those of you thinking of retirement: What dreams have you been putting off in the name or responsibility and frugality?
Now is your time!