Blossom At Any Age
Updated: Jul 19, 2020
A few years ago, a certain agave plant flowered in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Agaves bloom only once in a normal lifespan of 25 years. This one thrived 80 years before deciding to blossom, growing 28 feet tall.
Late bloomers can be a mystery. I once met an author who published his first novel in his 70s. He explained he was bored after retiring. One day he picked up a pen and the words began to flow.
My mother earned an education degree in her late 60s. I asked why she decided to start teaching when most of her peers were wrapping up their careers. “I can’t explain it,” she shrugged. “It just feels like what God wants me to do.” She was never happier.
It’s not that my novelist friend or my mother didn’t enjoy full lives before embarking on their new adventures. Their accumulated wisdom and experience infused their fresh pursuits with depth and understanding.
Unlike agaves, humans flower repeatedly throughout life. We enjoy spurts of creativity, stretch our grey matter and learn different skills, and discover new loving relationships.
Anna Mary Robertson Moses - better known as Grandma Moses - started painting at the age of 75. Julia Child didn’t learn to cook until she was in her 40s. Susan Boyle was 48 when she belted out “I Dreamed a Dream” on “Britain’s Got Talent.” Vera Wang didn’t design her first dress until she was 39.
Others bloom early. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed over 600 works before his death at age 35. Orson Welles directed “Citizen Kane” at 25. Bill Gates cofounded Microsoft when he was 21.
Flowering can happen over an entire lifespan, whether you’re a young whippersnapper, or you’re old enough to have ever called anyone a young whippersnapper.
At a summer church camp where I served as a counselor, our director was an ebullient woman in her 80s. Most adults there were in their 20s and 30s, but she ran circles around us. Every morning as we assembled, she beamed and bellowed like a cheerleader, “This is the day the Lord has made…so let’s make the most of it! Anything is possible!”
Her boisterous paraphrase of Psalm 118 was an invitation to the inspiration, innovation, and fresh opportunities of that day, which was not to be wasted. Following her example, we had a whale of a time. Every day was like blooming all over again.
The when and why of flowering can be a mystery. Like my mother, the call to try something new might sound like the voice of God. For others it could just feel like the time is right to release the brakes on a long-held dream. Whatever our inspiration to blossom, there truly is no better moment than now. This is the day, and anything is possible.