It is my first time attending this art class. A quick sweep of the room tells me that nobody here is likely to become my new buddy. They are all white-haired retirees, older than me by at least forty years. So I haven't noticed that the woman working next to me is particularly aged until she announces that next Wednesday will be her seventieth wedding anniversary. "People ask me how we stayed married for so long. But I don't know!" She laughs triumphantly. Then, in case anyone's wondering (I am still doing math in my head), she adds, "I'm ninety-five." Only then do I notice her walker.

And the conversation flowing around me segues neatly into arthritis. Wow, I really don't belong here. No wonder these women look at me so skeptically, as if I am a particularly persistent optical illusion.

Ninety-five years old! I wonder what her husband does while she paints. I imagine him sitting near a fireplace, carving wood figurines with a penknife. I don't actually know what a penknife looks like. Maybe he listens to the radio while he carves, to old shows like the Lone Ranger.

I wonder, too, what two ninety-five-year-old people keep in their fridge (once you're a statistical anomaly, you might as well cut loose and eat what you like, but what DO they like?), and if they have the same fridge they have had for years, and if it is a small, rounded, 1950's era Frigidaire.

The conversation turns to daughters-in-law, and I hear, "My mother-in-law lived with us for a few years. It was during World War II. She also had four daughters, but she came to live with us. I was a good cook. She was a smart woman."

My calculations have finally yielded a meaningful statistic: When she was my age, the U.S. had not yet entered WWII!

Now I understand why she has shown little interest in learning my name, or even looking me in the eye. When you're ninety-five, "honey" will do for just about anyone. She calls the teacher "honey" too. Nothing personal.

Her drawing is unimpressive. She is working with colored pencils, copying the picture of a bird cage on a birthday card, but what she has been laboring over for the past hour looks like nothing but a mass of blurred lines.

I am willing to bet: this woman will produce no masterpieces in this lifetime.

I wonder what it feels like to be ninety-five years old and to know that.

I may not be producing any masterpieces either, but it's different for me. I am slowly stacking up skills in a life-long journey towards mastery. The years stretch ahead of me in which I can refine my goals, discover new techniques, new patterns, new definitions of beauty. If I am not impatient for success, it is only because I think I have a long time.

But when you're ninety-five years old…

"Oh, this drawing's a mess, honey!" She tells the teacher as she closes her pad. "But this is how we learn, isn't it? It's the only way I'm going to learn." Does she really think she is going to learn?

I suspect she knows she is spouting platitudes and doesn't care. She's playing. She's confounding the universe with an artistic statement that will never make it into a museum. In fact, that's how she GOT to be ninety-five. Gloomy bodies don't live that long, even on the Mediterranean diet.

Maybe I will try this for a while, this irrational delight in the present. There's something to be said for it. It's why there's sidewalk chalk. It's the real reason why I'm painting, too.

Maybe I will stop trying so hard to predict grand outcomes whenever I take a step in any direction. It doesn't matter if things never add up. Painting is worthwhile even if I never become an artist, and doing a small kindness is worthwhile even if I never change the world. Even if it turns out not to have mattered much at all. Grand outcomes? Not my responsibility.

What a relief.

As I leave the classroom, some of my older classmates smile kindly at me. Maybe they sense my new maturity. Or maybe they are just bestowing on me the passing glance I deserve, being merely someone else's grandchild.