For me, I think it’s absolutely wonderful that I’ve let go of trying to be who other people think I should be and learned I can do incredible things that I never dreamed I could do. I dance three days a week, I do yoga, I do tai chi, and sing in a couple choirs. People always said I was going to be an artist, you know, that’s what I should be, that’s what I was good at. I spent a long time doing that, never made money on it hardly, but I spent a lot of time doing that and getting published and getting good at it. I’ve learned to do healing work, spiritual healing work. It’s just been really incredible realizing my own potential.
[I wonder what it is about growing a little older that lets you close those doors.]
You get to a point sometimes that you don’t give a damn what people think, and it’s wonderful, it’s so freeing. You don’t have to please everybody to get a paycheck or whatever. You’ve got savings and you realize it’s not cutting it anymore; you might as well really live your life. You only have so much time left, you might as well enjoy it.
•Janis Joplin – “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.” And it’s true. ‘Cause all of a sudden when you get to a certain age, why not? Why not go ahead with this or that?
•If you’re not going to do it now, you’re not going to get it done at all. You might as well live your life while you’re still here.
•People come around to me and say, “I’m sorry”–it’s kind of a throw-away line, you know. Sometimes they really mean it, sometimes it’s just…you know. It’s sort of social grace. I tell them, “When you get to be my age, you will discover that guilt and anxiety are really worthless emotions.” Get rid of it. It’ll make you stronger, it’ll free you.
•Free to have a good time.
•Yeah, and that there’s only so much time. I’ve had serious health issues throughout my life and really big things have happened. After that, this is all just extra. When I turned 50, I decided I’m going to do things that I love to do.
•When you’re 75, you can do even more.
•I will, I will! I’m 56. So I took dance lessons, and while I was there, I just had this image of me singing on stage, and I asked if I could go early, and I sang. And she said, “You know, you can sing, why don’t you take some voice lessons?” So I did, and now I sing on stage, and I’m still terrified, but I still do it, and I sing in three different groups. I live in two places, so in my other home I do that there, and here I just sing in choirs, and that’s how I started writing. I have a really good love song I wrote in this past year—very honest. It’s called “In the Eyes of a Dream.” So that’s been kind of a joy for me to write because I could write for most of my life, but I never wrote songs. I just wake up and there’s a melody in my head, and I realize that isn’t a song I know, that’s new. So then the words start coming as I’m humming into my little recorder and that’s how I write. This summer for the first time I got to perform them in front of about 300 people. My own music! I just couldn’t believe it; it was so cool. Someone recorded it and I actually have the recording at home because I still wouldn’t believe I did that. So I think that’s what about getting older is—-is that you get to do things that even surprise yourself, that I didn’t know I could do that. But letting go of those limits or anxiety or people-pleasing or all those things that we do that’s about other people because then we’re focused on doing what we want to do with our own lives. At this point in life I can do that. I’ve given myself permission to do that. I don’t attain that all the time, but I sometimes give myself permission to do that. And what a waste if you didn’t do that with your life!
•”Hello in There” that John Prine song. He wrote a song about going and visiting elderly people. “Is your brain still working? Is your heart still ticking?” “And if someday you spot some ancient, hollow eyes, don’t just pass them by and stare. Say hello in there.”
•I joined a choir the first time just last January. I’ve liked to sing for a long time, but mainly sung by myself, or some open mikes once in a while, so I learned to sing in a choir, the Oakdale Prison Choir, and I’m hosting this thing at my house twice a month, and that’s nice. We just sing a cappella. I just wrote a little song last night about walking in the woods, walking in the sunshine, golden leaves all around. “Here, my mind is quiet. Here, my heart is sound.” Stuff like that.
•I think that’s called poetry.