In a bookstore in Sheridan, Wyoming, after a signing for one of my books, a woman came up to me and said, “I wish I’d met you long ago. My husband died when I was 43 and his family ranch is a very special place historically. I’ve always wanted to turn it into a kind of museum for everyone to see how things once were. Now it’s too late.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Well, I’m too old now.”
She looked fit and healthy to me. “How old are you?” I asked.
“60,” she said.
“Are you ill?”
“No, I’m not ill,” she said with a question in her face.
“Well, you’re going to feel like damn fool in 20 years when you realize how young you were today. You’re not old enough for a rocking chair. You’re exactly the right age to do this. If age is your only obstacle, you don’t have an obstacle.”
She looked surprised and didn’t answer. Then others came up to speak to me and I half-forgot about her. When the event was over and I thought everyone had gone, she was still there. She walked up to me and said, “You know what, I’m already a damn fool. You’re right. I’m going to do it now. I’ll start making calls tomorrow.” She shook my hand and she left.
You don’t get people’s names at book signings and I never found out what happened to her, but I remember that she had a strong grip in that handshake, and I have a hunch she turned her late husband’s ranch into a museum, just as she had longed to do.
It’s time to rethink age if it gets in the way of your dreams. It’s another one of those unchallenged assumptions we make that stops us before we even start. What exactly is it you think you’re too old for? Being a quarterback in the NFL? Prima ballerina at the Met? Probably. But having a great time and doing a great job at what you love? Never.
Video in English and German! – Video auf Englisch und Deutsch!
And while we’re on this subject, here’s a letter I found in my files that you might enjoy:
We are in a coastal town outside of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We have several more years of work here before we move back to the US. Though I’ve kept my day job, my life-long love for dance has always carried me through most anything that life throws at me. So last year, at age 45, I started taking a jazz class again in the evenings.
Yes, I was trying to blend in with other dancers in their 20s and I was way older than the teacher too, but it was pure joy once I got myself to class and got myself out of isolation. At the end of the year we had a performance, a jazz/tango number. Afterwards I was told that some of the moms of the younger dancers said they wanted to be in the class too because they saw someone on stage that was their age. This year I´m going to do another show, that´s my dream. I love the challenge and the beauty of working as an ensemble.
I have to keep setting aside the obstacles for me, like the fear of being judged for dancing at this age. But the more I get to class and am around the power of the group, the more I begin to leave the fear behind and I just feel the love.
If these three items didn’t completely convince you that it’s possible to do what you love at any age, think about this: it’s selfish not to do what you love. Brave, generous people like these two women are giving us historical museums of their ranches and wonderful performances in dance groups. Now it’s your turn. What are you going to give us?
Learn how to live your Second Life in the Book Club now. We’re running two of them, one in English, one in German. You can join only until midnight, March 11. Just click on one of these books – German or English – to find out more!!