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’re Never Too Old to Dream

Good morning! I hope your day is off to a great start.

I was chatting with some friends last night and, as often happens with this group, our conversation drifted to the topic of dreams. Not in the sense you might think, with a roomful of people sitting around a table, eyes aglow as each described their greatest goal in life. But in the sense of growing older and a common sentiment that, as we continue to age, we hope we never stop dreaming.

That conversation started as we shared stories of our own parents, and even ourselves, in which the fire just kind of died out over the years. Not completely, at least in our own instances, because we all still have dreams we’re working toward. But sometimes the dream can be as simple as not allowing age and all its associated challenges to get in the way of living.

I know, for my wife and I, we just don’t go out anymore. We don’t visit friends, we don’t invite friends to visit us, we don’t get together with others for a Saturday outing or go out for a night of dinner, drinks, and music – all things we used to enjoy, but somehow over the years they just faded into the background. Now, we pretty much sit around the house. Real party animals, huh?

And, looking back, I can’t really put my finger on a point in life when that changed. But if I had to take a guess, it would be 1988, when I got out of the Navy and we moved back home. That’s 31 years for anyone who’s already run out of fingers and toes to add it up. I can’t recall a time since then when we’ve done much of anything outside the home except shop and take the occasional vacation.

Now, to some people, that sounds like Heaven on earth. I get it. We’re not all wired the same way, and we all have different interests. But in our case, and I think I’m speaking for both of us, we miss it. We would desperately love to get out and do more, just for the fun of being around friends. But when you allow yourself to stop enjoying that side of life for so long, you begin to forget how.

My mother-in-law was one of those people who could make friends anywhere in the world in a matter of seconds. I remember one time walking down a street past a historic home where the owners were sitting on the porch enjoying a beautiful day. She said hi, they said hi, one thing led to another, and the next thing I knew they were offering to give us a tour of their home. Wow.

So, how does that fit into the topic of dreams? Well, Jane always imagined a more affluent life and all the things that go along with it – possessions, friends, entertaining, you name it. And, for her, touring the home of somebody who was enjoying that lifestyle would somehow satisfy her own dream. She could live vicariously through others and did so for most of her life.

We all have dreams. Yet, much as my wife and I somehow put a lid on our socialization skills, people tend to shut down those dreams as they get older. Or, maybe the dreams don’t really go away – they just change. At the age of 90, a bigger house probably isn’t as important as the ability to step outside and take a walk. At that age, I imagine most people’s dreams involve their dreams for others.

Make no mistake – there are things I want in life and experiences I want to enjoy. But, as I get closer to the age of retirement, my dreams are more focused on what I want for my daughters and grandchildren. When I look at new opportunities today, I don’t think so much of how they could benefit me as how they could benefit my family. As Dad would say, that’s just part of growing up.

It’s easy to look at things as we get older and think, “That really wouldn’t interest me.” But let me ask you a question – if somebody had presented you with that same vision thirty or forty years ago, would you have been grateful for the opportunity? Is it something you may have acted upon? Could it have changed the course of your life, and possibly led you closer to where you’d like to be today?

And you know, as we look at these things through the eyes of those we care about the most, we sometimes get our second (or third) wind and think, “I’m not that old – why can’t I do that?” Few things make me smile quicker than the image of old folks with white hair boogie-boarding or skydiving. These are people who never stopped dreaming. These are people who live. These are the people I want to be. How about you?

That’s all for now. Keep those dreams alive and have an awesome day!

© 2019 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved