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Op-Ed: Follow Your Dreams No Matter Your Age

The author at the top of Homestake Peak at 13,209 feet, in January 2020.EXPAND
The author at the top of Homestake Peak at 13,209 feet, in January 2020.
Frosty Wooldridge
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At the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, you might consider your life on this planet as an “eternity” of eighty years, give or take. You may choose any style, any path and any attitude. You may live large, average or choose a “meek” existence. It’s up to you. It’s your choice. It’s your individual “eternity.” Once you draw your last breath on this planet, your “moment” is gone forever.

We humans enjoy and/or are cursed with the fact that we know our time on this planet will end. Other creatures on this globe do not realize their lives carry a departure date.

Mountain man John Muir said it with style as to bears: “Bears are made of the same dust as we, and breathe the same winds and drink of the same waters. A bear’s days are warmed by the same sun, his dwellings are over-domed by the same blue sky, and his life turns and ebbs with the heart-pulsings like ours, and was poured from the same First Fountain. And whether he at last goes to our stingy heaven or not, he has terrestrial immortality. His life not long, not short, knows no beginning, no ending. To him life unstinted, unplanned, is above the accidents of time, and his years, markless and boundless, equal Eternity.”

So, what do you choose to do in the last part of your eternity? What actually enthralled you to the point of fervor, passion and joy during the early parts of your eternity?

Have you watched Paul McCartney? He’s still playing his guitar and writing music at 78. What about Mick Jagger? He’s still dancing across the stage at 77. What about Betty White at 98? She’s still entertaining. What about Danielle Steel? She’s still writing brilliant novels. What about President Jimmy Carter? He’s hammering nails and building houses for Habitat for Humanity. Olivia de Havilland still participated in the arts until her last breath at the age of 104.

If you’re over sixty, seventy or eighty, the window of creative opportunity narrows with each sunrise. Unlike the bear, you know he’s coming…the Grim Reaper. But he’s not here yet! Big question: What new ideas, paintings, events, contests or anything that excited you in your youth can still be realized today?

Like the bear who does not know about his final moment, you may pursue anything your heart desires, which pushes that “final moment” further into the future. One of my dear friends, Lindy, watches her 95-year-old father play competitive tennis matches regularly. My friend Bob, at 77, swims a mile six days a week.

At 88, A.B. Facey, an Australian, wrote My Fortunate Life. No publisher would touch it. He decided to self-publish his book. In reality, he was an ordinary man. Because it was a memoir of his life — from a soldier in WWI to circus performer to cowboy to driller to boxer — his book became a bestseller. Audiences thrilled to his presentations. Colleges gave him honorary doctorates. When his eternity ended, Australians celebrated him as one of their greatest heroes.

Also at 88, Helen Santmyer wrote a New York Times bestseller: And Ladies of the Club.

While she was far younger, J.K. Rowling was living on welfare when she began writing her Harry Potter stories on napkins at a coffee shop in London. Well, you know the rest of her story: She's one of the richest self-made millionaires in all of Great Britain.

So where does that leave you as we head into 2021? With endless possibilities to make a mark in this world. You don’t need to become famous by volunteering at a child-care center or a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. You may grab a paintbrush and dab a few colors onto a canvas. You might take a pottery class that allows you endless creative pursuits. You might take up macramé, photography, jewelry-making, guitar, piano, reading, storytelling and dozens of other vibrant paths.

Or you can sit and wait! That's the path followed by most, but not recommended!

I suggest a book that I’ve read 23 times and expect to read another 23 times: Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert. Her book will fire your imagination, excite your creative mind and inspire you toward passionate living during your eternity.

Whatever you do, 2021 beckons renewal of your creative genius, your fountain of wisdom from your life well-lived.

Go climb a mountain! I will meet you at the top.

“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club.” – Jack London

Frosty Wooldridge is a population/immigration/environmental specialist, six continent bicycle traveler and adventure seeker who says he's "still riding through life with his pants on fire." Find out more at frostywooldridge.com.

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