Middle age can be a marvelous time in our lives, if we let it. It can actually be a phase of life in which our creative energies catch fire, when we can truly make a difference in the world with our ideas, art, music and other forms of self-expression. Here are 10 tips for finding your creative muse later in life:
1. Middle age is not an age. It’s a point in time at which we arrive individually. It’s when we begin to look back at our “body of work” and history of making decisions and then look ahead at the rest of our lives to determine if we are on the right track.
2. It is not selfish to decide to find meaning in your life. It is time for you to be you.
3. Making a living is important, but so is leading a fulfilling life. Maybe your job is fulfilling, maybe it simply provides the means to support what is important to you, if not, don’t give up on your soul. Listen to it. No one remembers their last tax return when their life flashes before their eyes.
4. “Creativity” may involve an art, a craft, learning an instrument or any other medium. It also might be about living a life using your own passion and originality to continue on a path you’ve chosen. Your individual creativity can save your life; it’s your soul talking to you. Ignore your creative beast at your own peril.
5. Hobbies are great, like golf, fishing and watching NASCAR but they are poor substitutes for finding meaning in your life. Have fun, have “pastimes”, but remember: releasing your creativity helps you get closer to figuring out that reason you are here. Not because carving a wooden duck reveals the meaning of life, but because seeing the world and changing it, even if you start with a block of wood and a knife, unchains your brain.
6. Our schools are designed to mass educate and discourage individualization. You need to make a choice to become who you are meant to be, it wasn’t taught to you. Only you can give yourself this permission. Unlocking creativity is the first step to finding yourself.
7. Talent is not necessary. Sure, we are more inclined to do something that comes easily to us, but putting in time at our chosen method of expression is just as important. If you love to play guitar, and have no talent (like me), it’s ok to play if that is your passion. You’ll improve and find your own voice in the process.
8. Artists are people who create. You can create without being someone who paints, or writes, or dances. You are an artist when you bring passion to your life, when, as Thoreau said, “It is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look. To affect the quality of the day- that is the highest of the arts.”
9. Work deep. Don’t take the first draft, the path of least resistance. Work from emotion, express your fears, your joys, your pain, your love. Anyone can work on the surface.
10. You are unique. No one can tell your story, no one has lived your life, no one has your point of view. Sing to us, dance for us, write for us, share your love, your life, your passion.
Rick DiBiasio is the publisher of the Middle Aged Crazy website, a blog and online community that is dedicated to helping middle-aged people unleash their latent creativity, as well as a place where emerging artists can hang out and support each other.