I think it’s important to let yourself be a beginner no matter what your age. I’m okay with it. At the beginning I always feel like there’s no place to go but up from here. I started running at age forty so sixteen years later I don’t consider myself a beginner. Yet each spring is a new beginning with the start of what I consider my consistent running season.
There have been benefits to starting later. My children who have were competitive runners in school suffered injuries that still plague them. I had the choice of taking as much recovery time as needed. Some that started young peaked early and are seeing their times decline. I am getting faster and have yet to peak.
Age gives perspective. When a man in his eighties beat my first 5K time I might have felt defeated. Instead I was inspired. When I won in my age category at age fifty it gave me confidence that I could break the age barriers that barrage us in all areas of life. The need to compete is still there but mainly it’s a competition with myself.
I love the physical benefits but more I love the meditative practice it has become. Today I wore my fitbit. It’s nice to know my time and heart rate to gauge where I am in comparison to where I’d like to end up but mostly I run free from technology. Without distraction I’m free to notice the pink of flowering trees, the chartreuse of new leaves, feel the warm sun and cool breeze. I see the small snake keeping pace along the grasses on the edge of the trail. I notice the patterns of wildflowers that always make me want to take those darn Zentangle classes.
I am elated to start this season of new runs embracing the feeling of a new beginning on an evolving journey.
My sister received a text she thought wasn’t intended for her. I told her to send back the ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ emoji.
“I don’t think I have those,” she replied.
“Do you have a smiley by your message?” I asked. “Tap on it.”
“Wow!” she texted. “You just opened up a whole new world for me.”
“You learn something new everyday,” I said.
But that got me thinking. Do we? As we age what changes? When do we start believing that we’re too old to try something new. What makes something unworthy of our time? What makes us have questions but no longer pursue answers, lose our curiosity, or just quit playing? If it doesn’t make money or if we don’t feel we have enough time to become accomplished, is it not worth the effort? When did measured results become more important than the journey itself?
I think the answer to that is as individual as we are. I see clients of all ages but those who are doing the best in advanced age are those who are still curious, still interested, and pursuing new activities. It’s the 86 year old who is teaching himself to read music to improve his harmonica performances and the disabled middle-age woman who is using this recovery time to learn bridge and is now going to a tournament. It is the woman in her late 70’s building a new home, continuing to garden and pursue new healthy eating trends, and sharing wonderful recipes with me. It’s the 70 and 80 somethings attending yoga classes for the first time and enjoying the benefits.
As I encourage and give advice to others I do try to live what I speak so it got me thinking. Why am I not pursuing more of my interests? Why are some activities less time worthy than others in my life? So I make this quiet resolve to seek the answer to my questions, actively learn something new, pursue my interests, and hopefully become a more interesting person in the process because I was just thinking…