There’s a Great Lie wielding a destructive impact on lives all over the country. It’s insidious; it fills the airwaves; it sells lots of products and services; it creates fear and paralyzes people into inactivity. The lie? That only the young have value. That when you reach a certain age it’s all over.
I’m 94. I’ve written four novels, a memoir, and a book to help failing college kids. I have a new book publishing in February of this year. I’m already working on my next novel, another complicated thriller. This week, I took a road trip down to Houston to be interviewed by the local ABC affiliate who wanted to hear about my writing and my workout routine. I’ve won awards, and I am grateful. By the way, all of this was done after I turned 80.
I have chosen to ignore the ubiquitous hum, the siren song of youth. I bring a lot to the table every morning when I go to my writing room and meet with my characters. They don’t know it, but I was once on the staff of Hubert Humphrey’s Presidential campaign. I raised kids. I was a journalist, and once upon a time, a model. I have a deep and wide range of experiences that a more youthful person doesn’t have, but hopefully will someday.
Creativity doesn’t know how old we are. Write a book. Take a painting class. Learn to play a musical instrument. Read everything you can get your hands on. Stay curious. Be who you are. Don’t let anyone talk you out of doing what you dream about. Naysayers are everywhere. Some are well meaning, but many are envious. They, too, have dreams, but they quash them all with a healthy dose of fear and a basketful of ‘what ifs’.
Don’t be afraid to fail. Great lessons are learned in failure. In fact, I would say that I have learned very little in my life from success. Tough times have given me strength. Going through them has shown me that I can go through them, that they will not last forever, that there is life on the other side if you can just stay the course somehow and get there.
Regrets and missed opportunities are a lot worse than failing. Looking back on your life and wondering if you could have done something when you had the chance seems unfixable.
I always knew from my earliest days that I was a writer. Through the years I never took my eye off of that prize. I wrote when I could and honed my craft as I was able. And, then, at an age when most people have long given up, I started a career as a novelist. I’m living my dream every day.
The Big Lie says that’s not possible. Don’t believe it.