“I bought a bike!” my friend Sue excitedly texted me. She sent me a picture of a gleaming, sleek-looking bike that looked like any other ordinary bike. Except it was nearly $800. Eight hundred bucks. Ok, seven-hundred-and-something to be more precise. My friend does not drop that kind of money on anything. You see, two years ago, Sue was a single mom of three kids going through a horrendous divorce. One day blended into the next and she found herself just going through the motions. She was dragging through each day. She knew, for her kids’ sake and her own, she had to find a spark to fuel her through each day.
Sue looked back to her childhood for some clues. She remembered spending her days riding her bike with her brothers. She remembered the carefree feeling of taking off down a path and exploring the unknown ahead. She remembered the wind in her face. She remembered joy.
Sue went to town, rented a bike, and took off on a popular bike path. At first, she found herself struggling to pedal–each revolution felt like pushing up a mountain. Sue was not an athlete and she had never worked out. At the end of the ride, she wanted more. She rented a bike a few more times. Sweated a few more times. She purchased a used bike and went for longer rides. Finally, she was at a point where she could enjoy the beauty of the trails around her. She finished each ride on a high like she had never felt before. The high was mingled in with joy. She had found her passion. Sue started running and discovered yet another passion. She completely reinvented herself and now she looks at the years ahead with excitement and anticipation. Never mind this “growing older” stuff–Sue is turning 50 with a new word in her vocabulary: BOLD. She’s planning a 50-mile ride to celebrate.
How about you? Do you have a passion deep down that you’ve long ago buried?
Occasionally I encounter people who tell me, “I don’t know what my passions are” or “I don’t have a passion for any one thing.” The clues are often found in our joy. If you could spend all day doing something and completely lose track of time–what would you do? If you can’t answer that, I suspect you’re in that nice little cozy corner of life and it’s time to get out of there and try something new.
Maybe you wanted to be a track star when you were growing up? Meet Olga Kotelko. She just set 10 new records in track and field. At 95 years of age, she has good looking legs! And get this… she started track and field at 77.
Maybe you dreamed of being a model when you were younger? You practiced hours in front of the mirror, moving your head this way and that. You gave up on your dream because, well, you’re too old and nobody hires models after the age of 24. Meet Valerie Ramsey. She started her modeling career at the age of 63. She took up public speaking and wrote her first book at 70 and her second at 74. Here’s a piece of advice from her: “Keep your eyes open for all the opportunities that are out there and learn to pounce on the ones that excite you.”
Maybe you’ve always wanted to go skydiving? Take up photography? Martial arts? Weight lifting? Sailing? Hunting? Surfing? Spear fishing? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to play a musical instrument? Or ride a motorcycle? Meet Sandy Scott. He has 657 jumps under his belt–from a hot air balloon to a Boeing 727. He recently won first place in a photography contest. He took up cycling at the age of 64, broke his neck on a ride, and returned right back to the sport. And all those other things I listed– Sandy does them all. He turns 74 on April 1 and he has some words of wisdom for you:
Enhance your life by trying new things – turn to the next page whether you find yourself in a bad or wonderful story. Don’t become a one trick pony. Enjoy an eclectic, free, exciting, varied life. Try everything and extract yourself from both good and bad ruts. Take chances and learn new things.
On my 44th birthday, I had pretty much resigned myself to a life of “growing older.” It wasn’t until an Old Lady (Don’t fuss–that really is her nickname) changed my life that I had a complete turn-around and unwrapped a long-buried passion for barefoot water skiing. Now I count the days until I can get on the water again.
I know there are many others out there who have the same “not-so-bright” outlook that I once had about growing older–the vision of life becoming a downhill ride as the numbers add up. The truth is, we grow old in our mind and in our attitude. Right here, right now, you can make changes. Change up your outlook. Change up your routine. Change up the people you’re hanging around.
And that long-buried passion? Unwrap it. Or open up a whole new gift of passion.
The choice is yours.