I’ve been reading a biography of Orson Wells (1) as I move through the editing process for my own feature film (2). Wells was and still is considered a genius at filmmaking. His career in films was marked by nearly constant struggle with the people financing his films. At the end of his life he was very unhappy about how it all worked out for him.

madeleine-leaning-on-her-elbow-with-flowers-in-her-hair-1918Yesterday I was at the McNey Art Museum in San Antonio and saw a wonderful landscape by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. At the end of his life Renoir suffered from terrible rheumatoid arthritis and then was confined to a wheelchair due to a stroke (3). Even up to the end he continued to paint outdoors. His assistants carried him and handed his brush to him, as picking them up was difficult due to the rheumatism. He died in 1919 and retained his mastery of painting until the end. The image here is of one of these last paintings done in 1918.

It was the parallels of these two lives that struck me. Both were creative geniuses and widely acknowledged as such by the world. Both men were working at their crafts all their lives. One however was successful and, apparently happy, throughout his life. While the other experienced stress and frustration.

We say that one component of aging well is to stay busy. I content that being busy is not enough. One needs to foster the energy that comes from creative endeavors. I think it’s the creative fire that feeds the soul.

So, why was one man unhappy and the other content? We might look to their past for issues and phobias. Better however I think to look at the decisions made moment-by-moment. No matter how hard we always have a choice and we can always chose again. Nothing extends beyond now. Each man chose and got his choice.

“Wells refused to accept ‘that genus disappears with old age… Fitzgerald [like Hemingway]… was rotted with the same anguish. That attitude is death.” It was that process of creation that kept Wells alive and kicking (1, p. 353).”

I just don’t think he was very happy about it.


  1. Heylin, C. (2005). Despite the System: Orson Wells Versus the Hollywood Studios. Canongate Books, Ltd., Edinburg, Scotland.
  2. Nudged. (2014). The Nudgedmovie.com website. Retrieved 07:32, Oct 03, 2014, from http://nudgedmovie.com.
  3. Pierre-Auguste Renoir. (2014). The Biography.com website. Retrieved 07:32, Oct 03, 2014, from http://www.biography.com/people/pierre-auguste-renoir-20693609.

Image Source: WikiArt: Visual Art Encyclopedia. (2014). Madeleine Leaning on Her Elbow with Flowers in Her Hair (1918) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Retrieved 07:32, Oct 03, 2014, from http://www.wikiart.org/en/pierre-auguste-renoir/madeleine-leaning-on-her-elbow-with-flowers-in-her-hair-1918.

Join us for a real-time discussion about questions raised by this essay on Tuesday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. We use the self-same virtual world as was mentioned above. See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room: http://tinyurl.com/cjfx9ag.