NEVER Too Old

What is it with people and bucket lists? I mean, I get it. Sure. You make this list of things you want to do before you die. You make a list of experiences you want to have, places you want to go, etc. I get it. But here’s my question: When do you actually start doing those things? At what point does your “bucket list” become your “to do list” for the week, month or year?  What is everyone waiting for that they have this bucket list? It seems odd to me that some folks feel they have to wait until they are “old enough” to start checking items off their bucket list. Other folks apparently reach a point where they feel they are “too old” to pursue some items on their bucket list. This dichotomy confuses me. Just think about it: You’re creating a list of things to do when you get the chance and then you’re too old to do everything on the list. WTF?

I’d like to take a look at both ends of this if you’ll bear with me. Let’s start on the “young” end and consider this whole bucket list thing. Typically, many items on any bucket list require a few dollars to experience.  Travel is a very common item. I’m included in that. Sure, I’d love to see Greece, Italy, Ireland, Scotland, England and more. I’d love to visit Australia. But that travel has to wait until I have the time and the dollars to afford such. That’s one of those things that, I think, people in their 20s and 30s know they want to do and put it on their bucket list because they have neither the time nor the dollars to go and do it right away. On the other hand, let’s say that younger individual decides they want to try skydiving. The cost isn’t huge; there are plenty of locations where this can be done; and it only takes a day plus some minor travel back and forth. This is one of those bucket list items that just doesn’t have to stay on your list long if you decide to check it off. Interestingly, it’s also one of those things that many older folks decide they need to do before they die… when they get around to it.

What other things do the younger folks have on their bucket list? Travel to specific places seems one. Depending on just how young we’re talking about, marriage, kids, buying a house, having that dream car, buying a boat, learning to hang-glide… there are a list of things most of us consider an eventual part of life that folks are actually adding to a checklist. Does this mean their life is incomplete if they don’t check off every item? I know some folks who have thought that way. Then, when they didn’t check off a particular item within a specified time frame the felt like they’d failed somehow. They started to get desperate to check off that one item. (A young lady I knew who planned to be married by 26 and wasn’t comes to mind. Many of her friends worried about her approach to finding her husband because she had no regular guy in her life – and here she was panicked to get married!)

Then there’s the other end of the spectrum: the older folks who have all these things on their bucket list but a lot of them might be a tad more dangerous to experience. Let’s be honest, unless you really take care of yourself, we humans are a bit more frail at 90 than we were at 19. So things like skydiving, bull-riding, driving a race car, running with the bulls, etc… these can be pure stupidity. Now, I’m not saying that’s a reason NOT to do them, but maybe these are things that should be done when we’re younger and our bodies can absorb and recover from the punishment better.

But what can we do without risk? One of the interesting things I’ve observed is that a great many people tend to think in terms of school, college, career/marriage, retirement, relax.  There are some who get more optimistic (or motivated) and add another career in there before retirement. Let’s be honest: If we’re working from 23 to 63 (at least) there is certainly time for two full 20+ year careers. It’s all a matter of planning I guess. Is there anything that says you can only work one at a time? Yes, most of us like our down time and need to recharge but I’ve known some folks who work a full time job (their career job) and part time hours to build up another career.

Then there are those folks who get to 55+ years old and they look back to realize they’ve fulfilled all their preset goals. They’ve enjoyed a full career in the profession they selected. They’ve led a full life and had plenty of great experiences. They’re looking forward to retirement but aren’t ready for it yet and then they have to ask… what’s next? Some don’t really pursue another dream for fear of being “too old” to start something new. My question is: Who said?  Why are you too old?

The trick, I believe, is to find what really motivates you; what are you inspired about? What gets you energized and gives you energy to attack? I hear so many people say, “I always wanted to write a book.” So why aren’t you? “I’ve always wanted to learn to sail.” Go do it. “I’ve been scuba diving for years. Maybe it would be cool to make a living at it.” Go get that instructor certification. What do you mean, “I’m too old?”

This means one of two things: You either think you’re going to die too soon to make your dream a reality OR you think you’re too out of shape / physically frail to accomplish the related tasks.

First, NONE of us knows when we’re going to die so why would you believe it’s going to happen anytime soon? I know a man who was told LAST July that he likely wouldn’t live to see Christmas. He’s alive and posting on Facebook (and loving life) this morning. When will he die? No clue. Obviously not when some doctor said they thought he would.

Second, yes there are some frailties that come with age that we can’t reverse. They are the unfortunate result of not paying attention as we moved through life. But being overweight, understrength or insufficiently flexible should never slow you down. They are merely conditions that require you to spend a few months correcting while you prepare in other ways to accomplish your dream; to take on that new goal.

I do truly believe that you’re never too old to take on a task; to set a new goal; to dream a new dream. But dreams become goals when you create a plan to accomplish them by listing out the tasks and putting them on any kind of timeline. A dream with a plan to make it reality becomes a goal.

When we start to die is that moment in our lives where we have nothing new we are striving to accomplish. When we start to believe that there is nothing left for us to do; nothing new to learn or try. That is when our soul and spirit begin to whither. Don’t let that happen. We are NEVER too old. Our attitude is what ages. We can prevent that. It’s a choice we make followed on by actions we take.

 

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