Nancy King

Nancy King Hiking

RedBox

New Mexico

As a child Nancy King performed for her elementary school, wrote and directed her first play at the age of ten, and almost 65 years later, she hasn’t slowed down. Following a long career as a professor at the University of Delaware, Ms. King continues write novels, conduct story-making workshops, and stay as engaged as possible.

Of all her accomplishments--including receiving praise from renowned author Chinua Achebe--she is most proud of the work she does helping eighth graders 60 years her junior find the same passion for creativity. But even mentioning the age difference between teacher and pupil seems silly to Ms. King, who is a living testament that age should not be a factor in the way you live your life.

“Society has all these subliminal--and sometimes not subliminal--messages that when you get old you’re useless; and that’s just not true,” said Ms. King, expressing frustration at the prevalence of this stereotype for older adults. She finds plenty of evidence to the contrary in the mountains of Santa Fe, where octogenarian skiers do not receive much recognition, only because there are so many of them. Not only does Ms. King ski, but she snowshoes, hikes, and plays tennis, as well. By doing the things she loves, she stays physically fit and mentally engaged.

And to Ms. King, being engaged is what it’s all about: “To me, being creative or engaged or whatever you want to call it is as important as eating and breathing,” she says. This belief was reinforced during her first bout with leukemia, which tremendously tested her will. But when things seemed at their worst, a story came to her that she needed to live to tell. The story told of people bumping around in the dark, until a mole, who could see no more than they, led them to a place they felt was home.

Ms. King took inspiration from her story, fighting through the darkness of cancer without knowing what awaited her. Fortunately, on the other end of that dark tunnel waited some of the most creative years of her life, which yielded three novels and many more essays and plays. Now having beaten leukemia twice, Ms. King considers the health benefits of creative engagement to be only too obvious. “Of course!” she said with conviction when asked if there was a correlation between staying creative and being healthy, “Creativity saved my life!”

Photo credit goes to Lajila Reyen.

Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 01:34PM

Written By: Adam Gallagher