Friday, December 31, 2010


Tuscan by Robert Miller

For me 2010 was dominated by a single theme...Italy. Compressed between months of planning and months of creating art work was the wonderful month of May in Bologna, Italy. It was an experience I never imagined would happen. Oh, I thought about a trip like this from time to time, but always dismissed it as unrealistic and unaffordable until Patience, in all of her wisdom, told me there was no reason why I couldn’t do it and that I should do it. That was all it took. Now, to be truthful, I had been talking about 2 weeks at an artists retreat and not a month on my own in a small apartment which is what it eventually evolved into.

Your have undoubtedly heard enough from me about my experiences and have seen the countless photos and paintings I’ve been posting on facebook, on my blog, and in these letters. They were the obvious and highly visible results of such a journey, easy to share. Some of what I have “learned” from the experience is less obvious and not as easy to describe...but I would like to try, and it has to do with age.

I celebrated my 71st birthday in Ferrara with the Rigosi family. For more than a year I had been struggling with being 70 years old, not so much from a physical stand point, although there have certainly been some changes, but more from an emotional and psychological one. The endless “some days” were no longer there, and for the first time I became acutely aware of the limitations I faced regarding future endeavors. In retrospect, most disabling and damaging to my spirits was the the tendency to judge and evaluate everything I did or was planning to do within the context of my age. I no longer simply imagined myself doing something, creating, traveling, or whatever; instead it was a 70 year old man doing or attempting to do these things, as if being 70 made me different. I also found myself wondering what others thought, or would think, about me, my work, and my age.

I recognized the foolishness of this kind of thinking knowing it was demoralizing as well as irrational and tried, with only limited success, to avoid it as I was preparing for my trip. To my great delight, once I arrived and settled into my apartment in Bologna, all such thoughts about my age vanished...well...maybe they surfaced while I was walking up the long hillside to San Luca, or the next day when I climbed the 500 steps in the Torre Asinelli, but only then. I don’t know if it was navigating an unfamiliar environment, managing the solitude, or something else entirely, but at some point during the second half of that trip I realized that I ceased thinking about my age; it no longer was a factor in terms of what I could or could not do. And it has remained that way ever since.

So, where shall I go to deal with 80?

1 comment:

Artemis r said...

So glad you honored "Bill" on his 70th decade! You deserve it and your family and friends are enjoying your art as a result! r