Our power in our later life
will give birth to many wonders
So says William Martin in his book The Sage’s Tao Te Ching, Ancient Advice for the Second Half of Life. Does this mean that in my case I will write the great American novel or an epic poem that sets the world on fire? Will my pastel and paint meanderings astound the jury at the Whitney? On some level, I’d like to think so. But I have learned to interpret those two short lines in a different way, and these are the wonders that are beginning to birth in me as I grow older: a need to look more deeply and see more clearly, to listen more completely, to wait more patiently, to embrace solitude and silence, to cherish people instead of things and moments instead of hours, to judge less harshly, to desire less adulation and acquire more empathy, to give consolation rather than seek it, to ask for help when I need it, to simplify the life around me and enrich the life within.
The creative process at this time is an expression of these areas of growth, just as it was always attune to whatever was going on at any particular stage of my life. In high school I drew portraits of friends. Later, it was paintings of my children and a fascination with the human figure. This obsession with solid form and life by the ocean grew into rock scapes, and it continues today. Yet I can definitely see why older artists tend to veer toward the abstract, for it is beginning to pull at me as well. What is going on in later life is often so internal that there is no concrete way to express the whole of it. Wonders is as good a description as any.