I used to think I had all the time in the world. Maybe I did but along life’s path, it seems to have slipped away. In time’s absence, I’m left with feelings of urgency, a desire to push on, to make up for pointless television and computer games. There still much in life to explore, to see, to live and experience, and I’ve become stingy when others around me spin, sucking energy and time.
Now past fifty, I’m returning to school. I’ve been accepted to University of New Orleans’ Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program. Exciting – yes and terrifying too. I haven’t taken a “for credit” class in over twenty years. Half the time I can’t remember where I put my keys. The pressure builds.
My first novel is coming out in April. I’m starting a new business. My job requires long weeks with lots of travel. Moreover, when I researched my teacher for next semester, I found he looks too young to be graduate faculty and maybe even too young to drive. His novel beat mine in the last Faulkner Creative Writing competition. I guess that’s why he’s teaching the class and I’m a student.
I’m frightened. I’m sure I’ll be the oldest person in class. Last time I was in graduate school, I was the second youngest. Shirley had me beat by a year. She was twenty-five and I was twenty-six when we started. I had more work experience.
I imagine that when I meet my fellow students next summer for a month, they will want to tear up Edinburgh, Scotland while I’ll want to return to my room and sleep before the next day’s class. I can hear what they will say about me.
“She keeps up pretty good for someone so old.”
“I guess when you’re her age, you have to sleep.”
“Maybe we should teach her how social media works.”
“I think it’s cool when old people still want to learn.”
“Why would she want to go back to school at her age?”
To those imagined comments, I say
“Yes, I do, and please teach me social media. And yes, it’s cool when anyone wants to learn, at any age, and any subject.
Why, you ask, do I want to go back to school? It’s not because I’ve finished living and now want to write it. It’s not because in my advanced years, I have the time.
Maybe now I have grown into the confidence to be a writer. I’ve reached a plateau in writing and want to improve. It’s part retirement plan to teach English at my local community college. It’s because seconds become precious and I don’t want to waste any that are left.
What kind of value do you place on your time and how do you want to spend it?