I often volunteer at Dorot, a non-profit organization that aids housebound senior citizens. Once a week, I go to senior’s homes and we spend quality time together. I have met dozens of fascinating seniors and have learned many interesting lessons. Now, when I go on a “home visit” I always ask the senior, “What is one life lesson you can share with me.” These are some of the responses:
My crisis came at the age of twenty five. I had been living in New York with two friends from college. I was working at a job where I had no future. One of my roommates got married and the other got a good job. I suddenly realized that at twenty five, I wouldn't consider myself a "girl" any more. I tried to picture a future for myself. But my ideas were muddled. WHat my parents would expect of me and what I could do were very different. I had always rather wanted to be a teacher. But, a semester at Teachers' College proved disappointing. I went through some very bad weeks reviewing my unfocused life.
At this point an idea appeared in my mind that canted everything. This may sound strange but the idea was my realization that when the time came I would die alone. This thought suddenly liberated me. That was something I would have to face. My father or mother could not help me. At that point I realized that I was an individual. I had a right to make my own decision and run my life the way I found best for myself. No one could do it for me. That idea had free my imagination. I decided that I would like to go to Paris and study painting. I had a whirlwind tour of Paris as a graduation present before but I had always wanted to spend more time there.
I thought it oeuvre. I had enough money saved up alone with some from my parents. I would have to put off marriage- I realized I couldn't imagine marrying a foreigner. So far no one had showed any interest in marrying me. I told m parents who could see that I was very happy with this plan. And although they were rather astonished they had no object.
I bought my steamship ticket and dolly arrived in Paris in 1953. I got a hotel room on the left bank for two dollars a day. I signed up at the Alliance and the Grande Chaumiere for an "atelier libre" where models were available for aspiring painters. At about seventy five cents a day, I could paint all I wanted. I met students and ran into an old friend from school. We teamed up for a whole. And eventually I met a serbian painted and yes, in spite of my stated intentions, I married him in the "Airtime du sixhuitieme, Monntmarte." This was in 1955. My family met him and liked him.
My life had ups and downs as all lives do. But I owe my life to that thought that gave me all the courage to discover what I really wanted and follow it. It was at that time that I had thought that was an individual. It was that thought that gave me my life.
"It is important to be open to new people and experiences, especially as you grow older."
"Get a really broad education. Read a lot. Get a strong academic background. If you are creative, embrace what is around you. You learn to live with what you've got."