Stay creative, and refuse to grow up

One Friday night recently, our whole family had fun watching the movie “Shrek.”
Shrek is a green ogre who lives in the middle of a stinky swamp. He is so ugly and grumpy that he has no friends. And he likes it that way.
Then one day, his peaceful swamp is invaded by a posse of fairy-tale characters who’ve been evicted from their homes by evil Lord Farquaad. Suddenly, Shrek has blind mice in his food and little pigs sitting on his bed.
Shrek wants the characters out of his swamp, so he makes a deal.
Lord Farquaad wants to marry Princess Fiona, who is a captive of a fire-breathing dragon. If Shrek can rescue the princess, Farquaad will let the homeless fairy-tale characters return home.
During his adventurous trip, Shrek becomes lovable and grows to like people, especially the princess.
“Shrek” seems like a children’s movie and in a way it is. But it’s also an enchanting adult movie with a point and a surprise ending.
However, it wasn’t the humor or even the wisdom that inspired me to watch “Shrek.” It was an article I read about the author. William Steig was 83 when he penned the story in 1990.
Still actively writing today, Steig recently published his 42nd book, “When Everybody Wore a Hat.”
Have you ever wished you could make your grandchildren and great-grandchildren understand what it was like when you were a child? If the answer is yes, then “When Everybody Wore a Hat” is the book for you.
Steig writes, “In 1916, when I was eight years old, there were no electric lights, cars, or telephone—and definitely no TV. Even fire engines were pulled by horses. Kids went to libraries for books.
“In those days, women wore corsets and heels and hats. . . . There was no such thing as a hatless human being. Cops had hats. Criminals had hats. Even monkeys.”
The first page has a picture of eight-year-old Steig climbing a tree. And the last page has a picture of him today—at age 95.
Steig both wrote and illustrated this charming book.
But long before he wrote “When Everybody Wore a Hat,” Steig had a stellar career as a cartoonist at The New Yorker. He produced more than 1,600 drawings and 117 covers.
His cartoons have been collected and published in book form.
Then, at age 61, Steig launched a new career as a writer of children’s books, which have won many awards, including the Caldecott Medal in 1970.
Steig has a unique ability to see through the follies of adult life. He once said ”For some reason, I’ve never felt grown up.”
In a typically insightful statement, he told The Boston Globe, “Grown-ups do things they don’t enjoy and that’s very stupid, though it’s not their fault.
“Grown-ups are victims of a crazy system. A guy will work 50 years at the same job, hate it, and when he retires and goes to Florida, he misses this way of life.”
Thank goodness Steig didn’t buy into that crazy system. By refusing to “grow up” and by starting a new career at an age when many retire, this creative man still is bringing joy to all who read his work.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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