Growing older, staying involved | Home Again

By Joanne Peterson | May 05, 2017

Last weekend, 250 participants in the Creative Age Festival of Edmonds (aka: CAFÉ) filled the Edmonds Senior Center with an all-day buzz of Saturday activity. From 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., attendees – mostly of retirement age – sampled activities, listened to speakers, were involved in discussions and discovered or polished their creative gifts.

The grand day ended with food, wine and live jazz. What was not to like?

Stopping to chat in the hallways, sharing a coffee break or sitting in a classroom listening to a noted educator, I enjoyed being part of an event bringing friends and strangers together for an entire day of fun and learning. Obviously, a tremendous amount of inspiration, planning and organization goes into such an event. In this case, I think the committee works all year.

And then all those involved in planning the day show up, filled with hope and expectation and perhaps a bit of fear, as they watch their event unfold. The 2017 CAFÉ event unfolded beautifully. I look forward to next year’s Creative Age Festival of Edmonds.

I think the greatest benefit of the festival might be providing solid evidence that growing older doesn’t necessarily mean growing less active or involved or – especially – less valued.

Ageism is difficult to combat; there’s no question about that. But the best way to overcome a de- valuing of older people is for them to keep on learning and growing. Younger people move more quickly, multitasking and accomplishing, their lives stretching out before them filled with limitless possibilities. In another 20 or 30 years, though, they’ll know a great deal more about life than they do now, as they navigate the challenges and opportunities of later years.

It’s all a fascinating continuum, isn’t it?

Infant to child to middle-aged to elderly. The Creative Age Festival serves as a fresh reminder that the wisdom older people have earned and accumulated through the decades is priceless. That wisdom, coupled with a positive spirit and determination, can bring a continuing sense of power and purpose.

My involvement with the Edmonds Community College Creative Retirement Institute program enhances my belief in older persons and their capabilities.

The CRI curriculum committee met this week, and classes for next fall promise another quarter of fabulous offerings – with no tests! – including philosophy, literature, astronomy, music and history – classes presented by qualified instructors who choose to teach retirement-age people. They appreciate the enthusiasm and dedication of their students, not to mention the life experiences and professional backgrounds shaping those students.

If you aren’t familiar with the Creative Retirement Institute, and you or someone you care about is close to retirement age, check out EdCC Community Education online.

My weekend gave me a lot to think about, much of it age-related. First, the CAFÉ event filled my Saturday with a succession of positive experiences for active mature individuals. Then on Sunday I attended a memorial service for another dear person I’ve recently lost.

It was a celebration of his life, yes, but it was sad, too. And then I visited my sweet cousin, who is working with good courage to overcome a second stroke. Overall, considering the thoughts of my weekend, life feels tender and tenuous – and precious.


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