ART & INSPIRATION FROM PAUL & KATHY BOECHER©
Yesterday, my husband completed teaching an acrylic arts program for those aged 55 and older. The class consisted of ten students – some seasoned artists and others who were fairly new to painting. During the course of eight weeks, Paul used the same canvas to demonstrate different techniques as well as to show his students how to take risks. He’d paint over the original painting and completely redo it or take just a portion to show how things could easily change if you have the freedom to let go and trust your instincts.
It’s not easy for most of us to let go of things that make us feel safe – especially when we’re in the golden years. We’re set in our ways. We’ve become creatures of habit. We rely on the sameness of a schedule or the mundane routines we choose to follow. Taking chances is way to risky for most people, even the young.
When we’re kids, we’re told to follow the rules. We soon realize that warnings and rules are set for our own protection – especially the first time we touch a hot stove. When we reach adolescence, we think we know better and begin to follow our own course, only to be set on track again when we make a foolish mistake. As we grow into adulthood, responsibility takes over and we feel an obligation to stay on the straight and narrow in order to set a good example.
When we get closer to retirement, we start making a bucket list of all the things we wished we could do before we die. Some have the opportunity scratch off those items, but most of us play it safe until our lives become boring, useless and often lacking.
All of the arts are great means whereby we can stimulate our lives again. If you loved making art in high school – do it again. If you thrived on writing for your school newspaper – start compiling a memoir. It may take you out of your comfort zone for a little while, but soon your memory will be stimulated again and your brain will be doing push ups in your head. If you played a musical instrument, enjoyed drama or being part of the debate team – let those skills improve your life once more.
My point is this – when we reach retirement, we don’t have to give up living. We all need some kind of stimulation to stay young at heart. God has endowed us with gifts and talents and when we let them rest too long, we’re being a bit selfish. The rest of the world is not getting a chance to enjoy them. Dust off your paint box. Participate in an exercise program for seniors. Bring out your tap shoes, put them on and dance until the cows come home. You’d be surprised how much you still remember.
The art program, rightly named “Vitality Arts,” was presented by Paul through our neighborhood art center. His demo painting became a topic of discussion and some of his students want to purchase it. Many of them enjoyed it, because it showed that we need to step outside the box at times. We can paint over something and start over if we have to and the world isn’t going to end. I believe Paul enjoyed that aspect of teaching the class as well, knowing that his students learned that it’s OK to take chances, even when you’re a senior citizen.