“Intensely active older men and women who have the means and see the twilight years as just another stage of exploration are pushing further and harder, tossing aside presumed limitations.”
Kirk Johnson’s inspiring article (NYTimes.com, January 7, 2010) reminds us that our golden years aren’t just our golf years. Retirement means more free time to explore and challenge ourselves and the world beyond the gates of our familiar community. It’s time to take the risks we were too cautious to take earlier, to chase down some of those dreams we’ve kept wrapped up for so long.
While some latter day adventurers “pursue challenges close to home, mastering a headstand or the perfect side crane balance on a yoga mat. Others go far afield.” Johnson describes Tom Lackey who started wing-walking in his eighties! And Betty Beauchemin, less than a decade younger, felt inspired to parasail. She learned how and even picked up skiing again.
Isn’t it foolhardy for octogenarians to court danger like this? Actually, some experts suggest that “older people might in fact be safer in adventurous, high-exertion activities and environments than their younger counterparts, or at least no less safe. And some use an old-fashioned word to explain why: wisdom… ‘It’s still the same knuckleheads getting in trouble or coming unprepared; young people, mostly,’ said Sgt. Bob Silva of the Eagle County Police Department in the central Colorado Rockies, who regularly gets called for search-and-rescue duty.”
Although Johnson sidesteps the obvious, aging is the ultimate adventure. Whether we surrender the yearnings for adventure which fueled our imagination and hopefully our lifestyle during younger decades, or whether we throw ourselves into life – the adventure life – with grace and enthusiasm reflects just how hungry we are to live. Just how unwilling we are to archive ourselves with all the other farts bitching about memory loss and joint pain…