What I'm Learning in my Fifties

Pruning, ˙2014, 5.5" x 7.5," Monoprint I recently read an article in the New York Times entitled, "What You Learn in Your Forties." A humorous article, it included such tidbits as "There are no grown-ups. We suspect this when we are younger, but can confirm it only once we are the ones writing books and attending parent-teacher conferences. Everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently."

That got me thinking it might fun to consider what I've learned in my fifties, because, as my office mate reminded me this morning, we'll both be turning 59 this year.

The term "synaptic pruning" springs to mind. This term refers to the brain's regulatory processes, in charge of pruning the neural structures in the brain, and thus reducing the number of neurons and synapses in order to create more efficient synaptic connections. This tends to occur in younger folks...

I've experienced a similar kind of pruning in my 50's. As we grow, we make choices and those choices close off certain possibilities--while others open up. It is true that I will never climb Mt Kilimanjaro or become a lawyer, however, in the areas in which I've chosen to focus, the possibilities appear to be growing.

Pruning 2, ©2014, 5.5" x 7.5," Monoprint

I've been pondering a new series I've just started: "the ecology of place”–or, “my ecological niche”: a series using plants gathered within my immediate surroundings, to create monoprints exploring the relationship between me (the human) and my environment (my yard).

As I thought about pruning choices, I realized that it was no surprise that I’d chosen this theme. I’ve had an ambivalent relationship to staying in one place for a long time; the result of moving frequently as a child. Although I truly love my small Central Valley town, there is always a part of me that wonders "I wonder what it's like in…"

This little thought keeps me from living fully in the present, in Davis, CA on Olympic Dr., in my house, and probably in any number of places I frequent. What better way to settle in, than to make a series out of it?

I look forward to sharing this work with you as it unfolds, both in my backyard and beyond.