I tore a page out of a book I own. It felt wrong, but I had a strong compulsion to do it. Page 298, from the essay Late Bloomers – Why do we equate genius with precocity? in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, What the Dog Saw. Gladwell says we assume genius announces itself when the artist is very young, but that there are just as many “old masters,” who made their best works later in life. From page 298: “Yes, there was Orson Welles, peaking as a director at twenty-five. But then there was Alfred Hitchcock, who made Dial M for Murder, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, The Trouble with Harry, Vertigo, North by Northwest, and Psycho—one of the greatest runs by a director in history—between his fifty-fourth and sixty-first birthdays. Mark Twain published Adventures of Huckleberry Finn at forty-nine. Daniel Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe at fifty-eight.”
As soon as I’d finished reading the words “fifty-eight,” I was carefully gripping the page with the intent of tearing it out. After a moment of arguing with myself about whether I’d regret it, I tore.
I don’t like the phrase “late bloomer.” It’s one of those embarrassing things parents say about you when you’re young, to explain your level of emotional maturity, or your lack of breasts. But what’s worse than being a late bloomer is to stop growing altogether. Better to keep creating and be frustrated than to stop creating and be depressed.
If you’ve stopped creating, no matter what your age or how long you’ve stayed away, it’s never too late to start up again. Even if you want to start some activity that’s completely new to you, that’ll take years to become good at, there’s no good argument for not starting.
Let’s both do or make something. TODAY. Let’s each think of something we want to do—just something we want to attempt—and take a small step toward it.
“Why should we all use our creative power? Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so indifferent to fighting and the accumulation of objects and money.” — Brenda Ueland
Need another little push?
“Do not fear mistakes. There are none.” — Miles Davis