I had a chance to catch up with my friend Garry Golden the other day. I first met him several years ago when he gave a series of presentations on The Future of Arts Education. Garry is a futurist. What, you may well ask, is a futurist? A professional futurist? First off, he’s a scientist. No crystal ball, no runes, no divining, no incantations. If you need to, go to the Wikipedia entry on Futurist. Here’s how it begins: “…scientists and social scientists whose specialty is to attempt to systematically predict the future, whether that of human society in particular or of life on earth in general.” You can also go here to learn about Garry, http://bit.ly/XystNn .
Of course, none of this tells you about Garry’s generosity with ideas and information, enthusiasm, curiosity, as well as his ability to listen well. As we caught up, I told him about the acting teaching I’m doing as a university adjunct. I described a workshop I imagined on creativity to help Baby Boomers such as myself rediscover and reawaken imaginative play. Garry grabbed a nearby envelope and wrote down “Creative Aging”. He told me that was the name of my workshop, reminded me of the demographics relating to Baby Boomers and told me to get to work. He laid out a rapid-fire game plan, which boils down to, “Start teaching the workshop, now”. Or, as Seth Godin would say, “Ship now.”
So I set about doing some homework. The first thing I did was Google Creative Aging. Lo and behold, there is a National Center for Creative Aging. Even with the help of a generous futurist I’m already behind the times! Take a look. http://www.creativeaging.org/ .Then I found an interesting article on their site by Dr. Richard Senelick. It turns out “dementia and aging do not affect all parts of the brain equally.” Aging, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s can actually uncover previously hidden talents, especially in art and music. For the entire article, go here: http://bit.ly/YT5DvG . I’m encouraged and confirmed in my conviction that my Boomer peers and I, with or without disabilities, have plenty of artistic potential to explore. Especially with regard to the rich reservoir of stories we have to tell. Exploring creative futures for ourselves by delving into our past.
Then I remembered I’d recently seen proof about what Dr. Senelick is talking about. Not some abstract study, but the true story of a longtime friend, Jeanne Raichle. Jeanne’s mother is a 94-year-old Alzheimer’s patient who has been painting for the last five years! See and hear her story here, http://www.kuow.org/post/94-year-old-seattle-alzheimers-patient-discovers-new-artistic-talent#.UTfDQWB_cuE.facebook
I then thought of my own mother, a longtime artist and teacher. She taught rug hooking when she was 90. She held regular classes at home. She would also travel to workshops and seminars to improve both her teaching and her craft. Here are some examples of her beautiful work.
Both ladies I mentioned are inspirations. It’s exciting to ponder my future, both as teacher and learner. There’s plenty to do. The time to get on with it is now. Having a futurist friend to guide and encourage me, to help me move from dream to action, is both luxury and gift.