The crowded room and lively chatter intimidated me on my first visit to the Oregon Christian Writer's Fall Conference. People stood or sat in little groups, and it seemed as if everyone knew each other. My knees came dangerously close to knocking in my near panic.
What am I doing here? All these people are famous writers and I know nothing!
Before long I found a seat and opened my notebook, trying to look like a real writer. People smiled and greeted me, and the day was enlightening, although a great deal of it went right over my head.
In my middle age, I felt silly trying to start a new career. I didn't even know if I could write. However, the ages of the writers really excited me. They were mostly middle-aged and many were elderly. Some were in wheelchairs.
If they can do it, so can I!
As time went by, I became active in the organization and became acquainted with quite a few of the writers (who were, by the way, just people). It seems that many had not an opportunity to write when they were still working and raising a family. Many needed to get a lot of experience before they had anything to write.
This seemed to be the average age and experience of the writers. They finally had time to think and to develop their craft. It required learning the computer (which is no small feat), learning new things, fellowshipping, critiquing and being critiqued, and crystallizing all those life experiences to bless others.
I was diagnosed a number of years ago with fibromyalgia and it can be very debilitating at times. However, I write from my home office. I started a brand-new career and wrote a novel and an inspirational poetry and prose book. I know it's possible for me to do this work as long as my mind holds up. Even if I should have more intense physical limitations, I could still write using a voice-activated program on the computer. I can sit in a wheelchair and write. I can dictate into a tape recorder. The Lord continues to open many aspects of writing.
Not everyone is a writer.
Many other fields require the expertise and mature perspective of senior citizens. After my mother retired, she spent seven years working as a volunteer at a mission school in New Mexico. She learned the computer.
When she was seventy, she got a job as a customer service representative for a bank (something she had never tried before). She tutors foreign students in English as a second language. She continues living a vital life, including making a trip to Moscow, Russia, in her late seventies. She'll be eighty next year and is planning a trip to Taiwan.
God has placed within each one of us wonderful gifts. Retirement is not a time for vegetating but a time of new beginnings. The younger generation needs to know what you know and benefit from your experience. A person is never too old to be used by God.
Crystal J. Ortmann