As I bustled about my kitchen preparing for a little soiree at my home yesterday, I couldn’t help remember what TIME MAGAZINE’S Science article “The Art of Living Longer” had reported just that week: that the probability for a longer life may well come from exercising one’s creative genes as we age up. How true, I agreed, as I hummed around the flowers.
For five months, I had labored over a huge mosaic project in my artist studio (OK, my garage). This four panel project would probably be the largest one I would ever attempt. Its dimensions in total were 80″ x 60 ” It was to brighten an outside, otherwise dull, corner of my home, which faces most of my back patio. For such a project imagination helps and tenacity is mandatory. There was a metamorphosis of spirit clearing my mind as I struggled on to cut shards of glass both by hand and a powerful electric chain saw. This pulsating, vigorous saw might easily have cut my finger right off. It forced me to concentrate, blocking out my life “issues” and watch exactly where my fingers were as I directed the glass into intricate details of sea horses, turtles, fish and even a sunken pirates’ chest (complete with jewelry). My “Under-Water Odyssey” was topped with blue sky, birds, and a cresting wave and surfer. Working on it became meditative. There is nothing like the creative brain at work.
Now, on an exquisite September afternoon, I put the finishing touches on the patio flowers, food and libations as I awaited my guests for the official unveiling of my “masterpiece”. I had finished my project and marveled at it with satisfaction. I was happy to share it with friends.
In TIME MAGAZINE’S article they elaborate on the benefits of creative forces of the aging brain and conclude (as I did) the importance of exercising the creative power as we age:
“Humans tended to underestimate the creative power of our brains…in later years, one hemisphere (of the brain) can actually turn and use the other side, if necessary (probably was for me!).” Regenerative power in our brains: for the aging artist, they can be of particular importance. “When you use your brain a lot as opposed to sitting around looking at the wall, you’re repairing things centrally”, commented Dr. George Bartzokis, UCLA. When one is engaged in creating something, it gives a taste for creating a lot. This used to be referred to as a “swan-song phenomenon.” No longer. According to all these studies, it is possible to regenerate the aging brain by creating. They mention several famous creative people such as Grandma Moses, who did not begin working on her paintings until she was seventy-six (she lived to be one hundred one).
Enjoyment of life sends messages through the endorphins to the rest of the body. Basically, it nourishes the body with satisfaction, with happiness, with accomplishment. Whether or not our creative instincts can compare to Grandma Moses isn’t the issue. The premise just makes sense. I don’t want to be Grandma Moses, anyway. “Grandma Tasha” is enough for me.