Old Dog New Tricks

Photo courtesy Yvonne Larsson
Photo courtesy Yvonne Larsson

Can you teach an old dog new tricks? That’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately. I’m an old dog and I’ve been trying to learn new tricks. I retired from my soul sucking corporate job five years ago, with the intention of doing freelance work. I’m 65 years old, I think most people are winding down and looking at real retirement at that age. I tell people I’m semi-retired; my 401k got hit by a semi.

Seriously folks, my bride and I are in pretty good shape for the future, if I never worked again, we’d probably be able to maintain a pretty good lifestyle in our dotage. But, call me greedy, I’d like to bring in some  extra dough so we can possibly drive a better car and be able to travel more in the future. But that’s not my main motivation to keep working. Frankly, I’d get so bored sitting around the house with nothing to do that they’d be hauling me away in a straight jacket in about a week.

Those of you who know me might ask, “Why not just work on your art?” I could do that, but it costs money to make art and I know what a tough gig that is. Plus I think I need something more than that. I could get a part-time job doing something mindless enough to not drain my mental energy, make some bucks and then just do what I want. When I first retired from Dex, I worked at a Caribou for long enough to know that working at a Caribou was not the answer.

So what new tricks? I’m learning web development. More precisely WordPress development. You know what that means, right? It means I’m using a four letter word a lot lately. Code. I already had some facility with CSS and I’m trying to up my game in that realm and I’m trying to learn PHP, particularly as it applies to WordPress.

Now the question becomes, “Can you teach and old artist new code?”

Creating art is thought of as a right brain activity whereas the mental attributes best suited to coding, language, logic, etc.  come from the left side of the brain. I’m not to worried about that though. I consider myself to be mentally ambidextrous. But that might just be the ADD talking.

Maybe I just like to reinvent myself. I’ve done it several times. After college I had my blue-collar period where I worked in a machine shop, as a deckhand on a towboat, fought forest fires, tended bar and drove a cab. I thought of myself as a fine artist in those days, but I really wasn’t producing much. I did some fine art printing of other artist’s lithographs. I stumbled into the graphic arts, dabbled in animation, freelanced as an illustrator, picked up graphic design and did some teaching. When I realized that what I was doing wasn’t going to hack it with two kids, I took the job making ads for the yellow pages. I was promoted to management and became the poster child for the Peter Principle.

So  here I sit, out on the edge of life, thinking about learning something entirely new. Why? Because it’s fun! Because it staves of decrepitude. Because WordPress is more than a platform, it’s a community and I’ve made more new friends in the last couple of years than the the last ten combined. And, with the caveat that almost everyone qualifies as a young person from my perspective, I’ve met lots of young people.  It’s like belonging to a club.

So  I guess I’ll wait until I’m 80 to take up painting.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.