Wrinkled, greying and creative

May 31, 2017

Damn. Apparently, the older we get, the less creative we are. At least according to a recent Crop poll finding that creativity declines with age. This makes me scratch my head, since I am surrounded by so many greying pateswho are still extremely creative. I need to get this off my chest.

The creativity before us

France, 1975. The celebrated, Goncourt Prize-winning author Romain Gary has fallen from grace. Reviewers ignore him. Readers say he’s stuffy, that he’s been abandoned by his muse. On September 14 of that year, the young writer Émile Ajar publishes La vie devant soi. Applause. Glory. Laurels. A Goncourt Prize for this “modern” voice. In 1980, Gary dies and the truth is finally known—Gary was Ajar. Making Gary the Stuffy the only writer to have twice won a Goncourt Prize. Not bad for an old dude.

We can talk about hitting a “creative peak”, but that will often differ depending on the person. And there are tons of examples of creativity that endured.

Artists: Think Chet Baker, Henry Miller, Pablo Picasso, etc.

If we’re looking at scientists and inventors: Nicolas Joseph Cugnot, Clément Ader, my boy Louis Pasteur, etc.

We talk about these instances less, however, because we idolize youth.

If you only knew…

Since I am a copywriter, it follows that I must contradict myself. In my last article, I wrote that advertisers tend to ignore youth. But, au contraire, I also believe that we’ve created a cult around long, shining locks and a smooth, tanned forehead. “A new sensation!” “Keep an eye on this new prodigy!” Passion, wild abandon, fragility: we love youth for everything that it represents. And that’s alright.

Youth’s a stuff will not endure, but wisdom does. My mentors are all between the ages of 40-55. They are creative and adept at explaining, demonstrating and teaching me the nature of that creativity. Not bad for a bunch of oldies.

Everything old is new again

I know… I’m not saying anything new. But maybe the slim 15% of the population over the age of 65 that does consider it important to be creative in everything they do, can be explained by something other than declining creativity.

Perhaps it can be explained by the democratization of creativity. And better access to the so-called creative jobs. Maybe the reasons are more sociocultural in nature, rather than age-related. If I had been born 40 years ago, I don’t know that as a child growing up in Granby, Quebec, whether I would have believed that I could be a copywriter. But I do know that, in 40 years, I will be wrinkled, bald, creative. And that I won’t be the only one.

That said, I am thrilled to see the rising popularity of creative work. Call me cheesy, but I believe that the world is a poetic, imaginative place. For real. And I think that creativity is to the mind what exercise is to the body. If jogging can stave off middle age spread, maybe creative “exercise” can prevent it spreading to your brain too. Dr. Gallaire is thus prescribing you 30 minutes of creative exercises three times a week, alright?

This article was originally published online in French on Infopresse.

Image from Art-Picasso