If last month winter was on my mind (winter projects, wintering, snow), the month of February has me noticing the harbingers of spring (daffodil buds, the morning bird chorus, the emergence of Pacific banana slugs), even if the temperatures are still on the chilly side.

Work: I spent ten days with my husband in Mexico earlier this month and made the decision to not bring my computer, or work on my manuscript, even though the writing and revising were going well, even though a part of me would have been happy to stay home and keep working. I wanted to be more present on this trip, and avoid being distracted by “I could be writing!” Of course I brought a notebook and jotted journal-type entries: what we did—snorkeling and kayaking, the creatures we saw—pufferfish and pelicans, the few Spanish words I was learning—cielo azul and lo siento.

I did read a book, Priscilla Long’s Dancing with the Muse in Old Age and pondered, in my notebook, the questions at the end of each chapter. I turned 59 this month and it was helpful to read of creatives in their 70s, 80s, and 90s still doing their art, however that art had, or hadn’t, changed in the winter of their lives.

About five days in, my need to create art, my need to write something other than a journal entry or how I might envision my coming decades, began demanding attention. I wasn’t sure what to do with that urgent energy until something happened, an encounter, and then I decided to write an essay about it, titled “How to Fail a Pelican and Other Animals in Need.” And in the notebook I’d brought with me, I did write the first draft of that essay and I felt full up and refreshed, as if I’d just returned from a relaxing vacation.

Do you bring parts of your daily life with you on vacation? Your work or your routines? Or do you immerse yourself in the travel experience?

Wonder: Do you wonder what old age might have in store for you? The good news, according to the studies in Dancing with the Muse in Old Age, is that the image of older people as inactive, unengaged, and grumpy isn’t true but a product of harmful ageism. Older people, by a vast majority, are happier than they’ve ever been and have more time to pursue passions, creative and otherwise.

So far I have found that to be true. While not quite old yet, I’ve been happier and written more in my fifties compared to my forties. And I am looking forward to my sixties, which is one way of saying I’m looking forward to aging, to living at least a few more decades.

Here are two questions from Long’s book to consider. Please share your answers in the comments if you wish: What are your own negative and positive attitudes toward old age, toward old people, and toward your own old age? What would be, for you, a satisfying old age?

Windows: In Mexico, we stayed at a 23-room hotel on a bluff, accessed by a dirt road, in the middle of almost nowhere, about an hour and half north of San Jose del Cabo. The weather was often windy and the water, while crystal clear and teeming with fish, shiver-inducing chilly. We took long walks on the beach most days, and watched the escapades of pelicans, cormorants, gulls, and herons. Here’s the view from the patio of our room.


  1. Pam

    Trying to find the will to write as I while the days away on the beach in Mexico. Don’t want to get sand in my laptop! Enjoyed your essay, Laura. As I look around at folks here, I’m feeling pretty good about my old age. Not nearly as old as some!

    • Laura Rink

      Observing is pre-writing! The beach is a perfect place for that! Glad you’re feeling pretty good about your age. Thanks for reading. And get a notebook!

  2. Jes Hart Stone

    Thank you, Laura.

    Flip side of the leave work at home-I pack too many projects. An assortment of tools, books, paper, devices. A carry-on filled with office supplies…

    • Laura Rink

      You’re prepared for whatever you feel like working on! Love it.

  3. Linda Quinby Lambert

    A nice triad of short pieces, Laura. I don’t go off on a trip without a writing project. Absent of one in my baggage, my mental baggage is guilt-filled. Which is why, this very moment, I’m at a conference and right now, with computer fired up and pencil sharpened. Thanks for your column.

    • Laura Rink

      Thanks, Linda. Glad you’re writing while you’re away!

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