I just read a blog by a woman a little younger than I am, but middle aged nonetheless, who wrote about the courage it took her to go back to school at her age and to follow her dreams. It seemed sad to me that something so common place should take so much courage and that she would feel so much resistance in her path. I know that such obstacles exist, especially for many woman, whose dreams get pushed aside for more important things, like raising a family.
While it seems sad to me now, I remember when I did something which I thought of as wild and crazy for my ripe old age. I started taking acting classes at thirty-eight and while it doesn’t seem so crazy to me now, having done it, at the time, I felt like it was a little crazy for my age. I was in a class primarily full of twenty-somethings with big dreams.
Why do people assume we stop dreaming as we get older? We assume that young people have the world ahead of them. They have all the potential for success, but we rarely recognize the role of experience and failure as stepping stones to success. As I see it, potential exists in experience and failure. Maybe we do not see the potential in older adults because we know it becomes harder to get back on the horse the more you fall off.
The young person has not fallen yet, and no one knows if they will have the determination it takes to keep going. Their optimism is inspiring, but they may not have the stamina it takes to endure.
The key to happiness, I have found, is the ability to constantly get back on the horse. Putting your foot in the stirrup and pulling yourself up is the place where I live. Success is sweet, but it doesn’t last very long, and then what? You must create the next challenge.
The potential for the most growth exists in that moment when you are working toward a new goal. You’ve experienced failure or maybe success, in the past, but in that place where you struggle to achieve a new goal, you learn the most about yourself. This is the time when you must have an unwavering belief in yourself and your ability to conquer what challenges you.
All to often, as we grow older, we forget how satisfying challenging ourselves can be. As we achieve success, we must continually strive for something better. Add one more thing to the bucket list that never ends. We can always find some new way to grow whether your eight or eighty.
I often see a ninety-eight year old woman in my mother’s retirement community who suffered a stroke and walks with a walker. Her challenges look a lot different from mine, but she faces them head on.
Every morning she gets out of bed and walks her dog around the block at a snails pace, but she gets up and does it rain or shine. She has a seat on her walker, but makes a point of saying, “I never sit down.” She is always going. May we all have the courage it takes to pursue our dreams and tackle our challenges to the very end. I will always get back on that horse no matter how hard it is.