Perhaps you’ve heard that George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States, has taken up painting. He recently unveiled his portraits of world leaders on the Today Show interviewed by his daughter, NBC correspondent, Jenna Bush Hager.
Mr. Bush began painting after reading Painting as a Pastime, by Winston Churchill, which was recommended to him by Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis. Working with an instructor to refine his interest, he now reportedly spends up to four hours a day painting.
The public has greeted this presidential pastime with surprise and corresponding curiosity, as Mr. Bush did not demonstrate a great love of art during his presidency. The former president has addressed the curiosity with the same folksiness that served him so well as a politician. It turns out, “You can teach an old dog new tricks,” said Mr. Bush.
Regardless of your view of Mr. Bush’s presidential policies, he is correct in this. Old dogs can learn new tricks. Old dogs are incapable of learning new tricks only when they decide they’d prefer to use their old dog status as an excuse.
Granted, Mr. Bush is unique from most of us in that he can pursue his painting unconcerned about earning an income. However, also unique from even more of us, the pursuit of his interest is highly publicized even when he’d prefer it not be (the email account of a family member was hacked to reveal self-portraits he’d rather not have shared). Scrutiny will be an inevitable part of recreating ourselves. Mr. Bush has decided not to let it render him an old dog.
You are never too old to redefine fulfillment.