Age is an issue of mind over matter.
If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.
Trying something new ignites something inside me. Improving my current skills makes me feel more engaged and excited about life. Stories about others, especially elders, who pursue new endeavors always inspire me.
In 2013, a 96-year-old man became a national sensation. After burying his wife of 75 years, Fred Stobaugh wrote her a love song. In an act of creative bravery, he entered the song in a singer-songwriter contest. Oh Sweet Lorraine became an instant hit and Fred became the oldest artist to appear on Billboard’s Hot 100.
Continuous improvement is good for the soul. Fred Stobaugh’s story is a beautiful example of engaging in creative action, regardless of age. At 96, he created a hit song and dared to share it with the world. Awesome.
Think of the skills, talents, and experiences you have gathered. Now think of the things you have wanted to try or improve upon. Is it possible to begin something new tomorrow? Can you become better at something tomorrow, next month, or next year?
I was 51 years old when I hiked the Grand Canyon for the first time. It turns out I arrived unprepared for the rigorous hike. I believed I was fit enough to always take another step. However, the physical demands of the hike brought my body to a screeching halt. I found myself fatigued, dehydrated, and at my physical limit. I could no longer take another step.
The next year, I did the same hike, but this time I trained smarter, harder, and longer. I educated myself on how to replenish fluids and nutrients. I planned a strategy to pace myself. I became more engaged in preparing for the hike. As a result, I performed better and enjoyed the experience much more. I became a better hiker at 52 than I was a year earlier.
Last year, I tried stand-up paddle boarding (“SUP”) for the first time. I rented a board for a few hours, received brief instructions, then went for it. I spent a lot more time in the water than I did on the board. I was pretty much a disaster.
A year later, my wife and I rented SUP’s for a few days on our lake. We watched instructional videos by experts. We applied what we learned and practiced on the water. We engaged more in the process and we got hooked! Before our rental period was over, we bought our own boards. We now paddle every week as a part of our exercise routine. It feels great to be on the water and I look forward to becoming a better paddler with each new year.
It is our mind that limits us from trying something new or improving on what is familiar, not our age. I’m taking my lead from Fred. I am going to keep trying new things in the years ahead. I plan to keep my inner spirit ignited, excited, and engaged. I plan to keep improving.
I hope you will join me.
Image via Unsplash