The dawning day at Green Lake

The dawning day at Green Lake

Another November morning, pink and gray,  at Green Lake

Another November morning, pink and gray, at Green Lake

“A human being would certainly not grow to be 70 or 80 years old if this longevity had no meaning for the species to which he belongs.  The afternoon of human life must also have a significance of its own and cannot be merely a pitiful appendage of life’s morning.  The significance of the morning undoubtedly lies in the development of the individual, our entrenchment in the outer world, the propagation of our kind and the care of our children.  This is the obvious purpose of nature.  But . . . whoever carries over into the afternoon the law of the morning must pay for so doing with damage to his soul.  Moneymaking, social existence, family and posterity are nothing but plain nature — not culture.  Culture lies beyond the purpose of nature.  Could by any chance culture be the meaning and purpose of the second half of life?”
— Carl Jung

I am preoccupied with thoughts of old age.  I am well past the morning of my life, and I have a strong sense that the afternoon is waning, too.  This year, I am on the threshold of turning 60, and I feel that I am entering the evening of my life.  I may be getting a late start on embarking on a new path for the second half of my life.  I didn’t give birth to my daughter until I was 34, and I want to keep working at the library for another 6 years or so, and that means I’m still given over to moneymaking, etc.

But I agree with Jung that staying engaged and growing means changing my attitude and the mechanics of my life.  I feel lucky to feel passion for photography, watercolor painting, and blogging/writing, all of which absorb me and delight me.  I also admire people who immerse themselves in other people — helping and enjoying family and neighbors and strangers.  They, too, seem to lead purposeful lives as they age.  There are many possible paths for navigating the afternoon and evening years.  What is yours?

“How shall I live?”
—  Jeanette Winterson, Art [Objects]:  Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery

Watercolor sketch of sneezeweed

Watercolor sketch of sneezeweed

“To live for art . . . is to live a life of questioning.  And if you believe, as I do, that to live for art demands that every other part of life be moved towards one end, then the question ‘How shall I live?’ is fierce.  The choices I am making are choices that allow me to go on working at maximum output and with utmost concentration.”
—  Jeanette Winterson, Art [Objects]:  Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery

Here are the choices I am making right now:

  • To blog only when I have something that I consider of value to share.  To stop straining to fill the calendar with daily posts.  (If I strive to live a more thoughtful, artful, imaginative life, then I hope to have lots to share.)
  • To buy good running shoes and resume my long defunct practice of running around Green Lake every morning.
  • To eat smaller portions and lose 25 pounds.
  • To paint something on each of my days off work.  (It’s still a challenge to maintain any momentum even painting these three days a week, but I believe steady practice will be productive in the long run.)
  • To eat from the freezer and pantry and then restock lightly and thoughtfully.
  • To get rid of stuff.
  • To begin a year of reading about art and artists.

What choices are you making these days?