Everything new we’ve ever started began by planting seeds.
Like farmers and gardeners in the spring, we planted possibilities. Next came the growth cycle, the ripening time most associated with summer, followed by the fall harvest when we celebrated the fruits of our efforts. Then came a period of dormancy and rest and reflection — the winter cycle — before another spring began and more new seeds were planted.
These seasons of development have no set time frame, but they are real and they’re essential for aging well and living fully. We need spring’s new beginnings and summer’s ripening even when we’re older and in the fall and winter of life. Otherwise, we can’t experience second wind careers and new relationships, resurrect old dreams and passions, or find fresh purpose.
Not long ago an 82-year-old flight attendant celebrating her 60th anniversary was touted on the evening news. It was fabulous to see her going strong, and having the option to continue doing what she loves. But for many of us, the “second wind” metaphor feels and fits better than continuing something we started long ago. I catch myself saying this more and more often after taking an afternoon break. My “second wind” re-energizes me, making it possible to take on more before the day is done — and accomplish more than I thought I had left to give.
With people aging and living longer than ever before in the history of the world, others recognize they have more to give, too. Like my close friend who opened his dream card shop last year for sports card collectors like him. He’s bringing a new vision and business model to this industry, and he’s passionate about inspiring the next generation of collectors. Best part, he’s out of his retirement rut and he’s reenergized. Now he has a powerful reason and purpose to get up for every morning. Nothing can beat that.
Any of us can do this and become more and do more as we age. Because we’re living better longer, we have more time and space to pursue all sorts of things that count and matter for a good life. We can start a new career like my friend — or learn something brand new like Mandarin or dancing the salsa.
We can volunteer for a cause close to our heart, or devote time and energy to deepening our spirituality. We can take advantage of our new freedom — to stretch our minds and spirits, to be playful and adventurous, to create and explore — as many of life’s responsibilities (work, family, home upkeep) become less important.
We can try things we didn’t have time for, or didn’t allow ourselves to do, when we were younger. All we have to do is get started and plant our new seeds and let our “second wind” push us forward.
We’re also aided as we get older by caring less about what people think or about making a fool of ourselves, like we might have when we were younger. With these two huge barriers out of the way, the sky’s the limit.
Literally, lots of Olders are jumping out of planes today for the thrill of the experience. Others are reaching for the sky in figurative ways with encore pursuits like the insurance executive who announced at age 65, “I’m going to be a filmmaker.” Others are fulfilling old dreams like going back to school to complete a degree or pursuing acting after retirement. The sky really is the limit — even if we can only experience what we dream of virtually, via today’s technology.
I was ready to start anew, too, after healing from a hip replacement last year. My recovery gave me time to regroup and ponder where I take my talents, experiences, and lessons learned. Writing a book on rethinking aging was part of the process, even without knowing what the end result will be for my time and energy. Sometimes the seeds we plant have a known end goal and purpose. Other times what sprouts is a complete surprise.
All I know for sure is that I never want the gifts and blessings of spring and summer to diminish and slip away. Let’s all keep living all the seasons of life. Let’s all catch our second wind in any way we can. Life is just too precious — and too long today — to do otherwise.