Friday, December 5, 2008

Late Bloomers

Tomorrow I hit a major milestone birthday, and you won't be hearing about it on the news ('movie star turns 33'). That's mostly because I'm an obscure suburban mom who occasionally writes and performs comedy, and whose albums sell by the dozens if I'm lucky; but I prefer to think of myself as a late bloomer, someone who won't achieve noted success until later in life. (And my milestone is the big 5-0, so I'm already 'later in life'!) I've always found it odd that we expect people to achieve creative success early in life - frankly, I'd much rather read, watch, or listen to someone with the broader perspective of age than take advice from some young snip. (I remember a few years ago, the singer Jewel published an autobiography at about age 25 - I know I was an idiot at 25, and I didn't want to read about anyone else at that age!)

In most professions, one's ability is only enhanced by age, not to mention having more experiences to draw on. (The exceptions being supermodel and professional athlete.) So here are a few examples that at least make me feel better about my late-bloomer-to-be status:

Rodney Dangerfield didn't start doing comedy professionally til he was 42.
KT Oslin was 47 when she released her first album.
Zelda Rubenstein (the medium from 'Poltergeist') didn't have a major movie role til she was 49.
The Marquis De Sade wrote his first book at 51.
Poet Wallace Stevens was an insurance salesmen until he began publishing his poetry in his 50s.
Daniel Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe at 58 (and back then, 58 was OLD!)
Alfred Hitchcock made his best films (including Rear Window, Psycho, and North By North West) between 54 and 61.
The paintings Paul Cezanne made in his 60s are 15 times more valuable than those he made in his 20s and 30s.
Maya Angelou was in her 60s when her books and poetry became popular (and she appeared on Sesame Street).
Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first "Little House" books in her 60s.
Colonel Sanders began Kentucky Fried Chicken in his 60s.
Grandma Moses was in her 70s before she began painting.

Colonel Sanders and Grandma Moses are the exception - most of these artists, like Hitchcock, Cezanne and Angelou, began their creative efforts early, but their work continued to improve as they aged, like fine wine. So that's me - a mature cabernet, rather than a beaujolais nouveau-esque child prodigy. Besides, many early successes, like Mozart, also died young. In fact, when Mozart was my age, he'd been dead for 15 years. Actually, I'm not sure if that makes me feel better, but I know I'll use my father's line, when people ask if I mind turning 50 - "Not when I consider the alternative!"


Linda said...

Hi Lauren, I was reading your blog this morning feeling old and well "over". The economy and all is taking a toll on our business and at times it gets to me, not to mention that not to mention all the "old" feelings that creep up when I'm not looking flashes, knee pain, etc
So I'm catching up on facebook and see you have a blog and must tell you how much I love you voice and you thoughts....not to mention that I felt lighter in spirit after reading this one on turning 50. Congrads on that achievement from a 51 year old and thanks for making my day brighter.

Aimee said...

Just stumbled on your blog from BlogHer. Thanks for reiterating what I've always felt--that I can still reach personal success even though I'm just in my 30s now, and I'm just gaining momentum. Anyway, nice blog!