Updated: Mar 23
I think of getting older as climbing higher up a mountain. If you turn around and take a look every now and then, you have a much better view of the world around you. You gain perspective that is impossible to have at the bottom of the mountain - when you're young and busy looking at the ground and where you can safely place your next step. The higher vantage point offers stunning views and greater reference to your place in the world.
It's curious to me how we've let our culture convince us that getting older is not a good thing. I get it, we like to kid ourselves that we'll be young and vital indefinitely. If we plump up those lines and smooth out those wrinkles, maybe we're not as old and obsolete as we fear.
All of this musing about age reminds me of a memory I have of my father. My father was an Air Force pilot for most of his life, but simultaneously expressed his innate artistic skill in many ways. His bedroom had a printing press in it and his bathroom was a photographic darkroom, his shower housing a rather cumbersome photo-enlarging camera. It seemed normal at the time, and as I write it now, that familiar adage about the acorn and the tree comes to mind.
Running the length of one side of the room, under the windows, was a workbench, full of interesting tools - brushes, paints, solutions, rulers, tapes, rubylith film. I loved to watch my dad use those tools. He respected them, used them skillfully, and put them away with care.
Which brings me to one of the fondest memories I have of my dad. I stood at his side one afternoon as he drew his interpretation of a Halloween witch. He was sitting at his workbench and I was standing, barely seeing over the top of the bench. I watched and listened to the scratchy pencil move over the paper without hesitation. I was mesmerized. As he drew, I looked up at his face and saw that the skin around his eyes was crinkled - his eyes were smiling. I could see the joy that creating this gnarly, knobby witch, purely from his imagination, brought him. I loved seeing him that way.
As an adult now, whose father is long gone, I know that his world was full of serious, life-and-death decisions, but creating brought him joy and the wrinkles around his eyes were evidence of that. I'll embrace the lines and wrinkles on my face. When you look at my drawings and designs, maybe you'll imagine the expression on my face and if you could see me, you'd know that creating for you makes me happy.