Ellyn W., age 75

I’ve completed my second circumnavigation: I practiced environmental law for 25 years and I’ve just finished my 25th year as a full-time practicing artist. In both, I found satisfaction and a sense of achievement. The concern for our treatment of the natural world and for the recognition of equal rights and dignity among humans has informed my practice in both spheres. There does seem to be some semblance of balance and completion in that.

I have been very lucky in my life. My life partner for 53 official years (and several unofficial before) is utterly and completely supportive, as were my parents before him. I have never faced economic insecurity. My daughter is a source of joy and great fun.

I realize what a great privilege it has been to have this life. Outside this bubble, and encroaching on it, the world is in deep trouble. We have made a world that is increasingly dangerous and, for growing millions, uninhabitable.

Back inside the bubble, I have only the usual physical symptoms of aging, nothing really to complain about. Cognitively, the cylinders are still firing—not like at 25, maybe, but pretty well. My memory is shot, but I try to combat that by accessing the hive brain represented by my friends and family.

I don’t see the point of “retiring” from a life in the studio that I love and that keeps me open to new influences and insights. A few years back, I entered the “I don’t give a bleep” stage of life. If you’re not there yet, it’s something to look forward to. Concerns about how others may judge you just falls away. I’ll save your place.