You’re Never Too Old to Dream

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

It’s been a busy week for me. Sometimes it works that way. Usually when the boss is out of town, but hey … that’s the way it goes. The bottom line is I get to come home at the end of the day knowing I did something productive. At my age, that’s a lot more important than brownie points.

I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the line I hit that point where my goals shifted from advancement and recognition to just doing a good job and leaving the place better than I found it. I think we all reach that point sometime in our work and personal life. For some of us, it just happens a lot sooner than others.

I talk to a lot of people who, when you suggest building something that can provide a little better security in retirement, and maybe even let them reach that point a few years earlier than they would have, they shake their head and say, “At my age …” What follows is some variation of “I’m too old to start something new” or “I’m happy with things just the way they are.”

What that means, in so many words, is, “People my age don’t have dreams.” Well, yeah, they do. We all do. We just may not spend much time thinking about them. But the most active retiree still has things they want to do, or places they want to see. And I don’t care how much money they’ve got, they probably wish they had a little more.

We naturally gravitate toward things that bring pleasure. Advertisers know that all too well. That’s why in vacation commercials, you only see families snorkeling over the Great Barrier Reef or enjoying a candle-lit dinner in a mountain lodge. You never see them waiting in line for tickets, enduring a body search at the airport, or crammed into a coach seat for six hours.

Part of the problem is that, when we’re younger, we want all the nice things and we want them right now. Sure, saving a portion of our paycheck would get us there eventually, but the credit card company says we don’t have to wait. We just have to take an even bigger portion of our check to pay the bill long after the fun is over or the new car smells like old cheeseburgers.

I did the same thing, so I won’t lecture anybody on financial responsibility. But, having done it both ways, I have to admit there’s a lot more excitement in saving for something you want than paying for it once you’ve got it. It’s like the difference between building something and then having to repaint it – every month until there’s nothing left to repaint.

As we get older, we realize that all those days of spending on whatever we wanted may have created some fun times along the way, but it may not have been overly responsible. And that’s when it hits – responsibility. The dreaded “R” word. It makes Mom and Dad proud, but to the rest of the world it simply means you’ve grown old.

That’s when we start saying things like, “Why do I need a new car? The old one still runs.” “A bigger house would be nice, but it’s just that much more to clean.” “I’d love to go to Tahiti, but who wants to sit on a plane that long?” Sure, the excuses make sense. But at the end of the day, they’re just validation of the fact that we stopped acting on our dreams.

I think a lot of that is the wisdom of age, realizing that money really doesn’t grow on trees and whatever we spend today won’t be there tomorrow. Part of it is the reality that, at some point in the not-too-distant future, we’ll retire and have to live on whatever we’ve been able to save. And part is just the fact that, as we age, a quiet evening on the porch holds a lot more value than it used to.

But part of it is that, as we get older, we give up our ability to dream. We’re no longer looking at a lifetime to enjoy whatever we begin building today. The appeal of a vacation every month yields to the lure of relaxing by the fireplace. And the excitement of new things turns to the cold, hard calculation of how much it costs and all the other things that money could be used for.

It’s one thing to become responsible, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on your dreams. So, what if you’ll only have a few years to enjoy what you’ve built? Doesn’t that beat not enjoying it at all? Dreams represent hope. And the longer you have hope, the longer you truly live. That alone should be worth the time you spend standing in line.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved

You Want Me to Act Whose Age?

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a nice start.

Today I’m taking what those of us at work commonly refer to as a “mental health day.” In other words, instead of going to a nice, quiet office and finishing up work that will certainly be waiting for me Monday morning, I’m spending the day with two preschoolers and their pre-teen cousin. Maybe my mental health is a little worse than I thought.

But I have to be honest, you can learn a lot by spending a few hours around young children. After a few hours you’ve pretty much learned enough for a day, but they don’t seem to wear down as fast as we do. Still, kids have got a grasp on life that adults seem to have lost, and I’m sure it’s what keeps them young. They don’t get old until they start spending too much time with us.

I wrote a piece several years ago titled, “Will You Please Stop Acting Your Age?” The premise was pretty simple. As parents, we often admonish our kids to act their age. It’s a rather ungratifying reaction to the immaturity and silliness of youth. You know, the predictable behavior that makes being young so special. Sometimes, “act your age” really means “act old, like me.”

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have people who have grown so old that they’ve forgotten what it was like to be young and have zero patience for anybody whose laughter disturbs their afternoon nap. Or their mid-morning nap, or any of the other naps they take all through the day. That also includes the times you wish they would take a nap, so they’d stop complaining. Good luck.

There have been times when I’ve caught myself acting older than I really am, if age is truly a factor in that. I’m not sure, because I see a lot of people nearly twice my age (I said nearly) who seem to have found a second youth that lights up their face like a full-day’s sunshine. So, who’s really acting their age and who’s just using age as an excuse?

I work with a small group of women who seemingly have an unnatural level of energy. They’re constantly off somewhere, exploring new destinations and enjoying the night life. Any time a volunteer opportunity arises, they’re the first to sign up. I doubt they ever spend a boring weekend sitting around the house, because there’s just too much to do. You know – like living.

Granted, two of them are about half my age but the other one has kids almost their age. Still, I was telling somebody yesterday that I don’t remember the last time I had that much energy and, even when I did, I didn’t put it to very good use. Once I had a place of my own to call home, that’s where I stayed. My wife would suggest outings, but I found a reason to pass on pretty much everything.

Now, all these years later, I would give anything to have the time and energy to do some of those things. I remember our last visit to Key West. We parked the car downtown every morning and spent the day on foot, visiting different museums, eating in different restaurants, taking a sunset cruise on an old clipper ship, sipping Pina Coladas by the pool … it was awesome.

I don’t know if I could keep up that pace for a day now. But you know what? I intend to find out. I don’t want to be one of those old people who sits around the hotel gazing down at the beach. I want to be out there where the action is, living every moment to its fullest. When my time on earth is done, I want the undertaker to say, “I tried everything, but I just can’t get that smile off his face.”

Age is simply a number. Granted, it’s a number that only goes so high before we have to hand over the keys and move on. But, for that very reason, it’s a number that should come with tons of memories and incredible stories, things that will make our great-grandchildren shake their head and say, “Wow!”

Acting our age may seem refined and dignified, and depending on the setting, it’s probably expected. But acting my age doesn’t mean I have to act old. It doesn’t mean I have to give up fun and laughter. And it doesn’t mean I can’t get down on the floor and sing silly songs with my little ones or take them on the tallest rollercoaster in the park. You know. When they’re old enough.

Aging is inevitable, but growing old is a matter of choice. You can enjoy life or sit around and complain about it. But remember, those little eyes are on you. If you want them to live a long, healthy, and vibrant life, show ‘em how it’s done!

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved