It begins with our first step. We muster the courage to shakily pull ourselves up from the ground onto the edge of the coffee table. We pat our feet against the carpet, almost as a test of gravity. We glance across what appears like miles away to the edge of the couch. We contemplate.
We test our feet against the carpet again. Like a music conductor, we wave our hands in front of ourselves and off the table. We’re balancing.
We look at Mom, we look at the couch. We see our purpose. In a breath, we fling a leg, then the other. We stop. Raise our hands, wobble the slightest bit, then take the final steps into the softness of the couch cushions. We walk!
We forget about the hundreds of times we’ve fallen prior to this moment. We forget the slight burning sensation of the shaggy carpet against our knees while we were crawling only moments ago. We made the first few steps on our infinite paths to somewhere.
We go to school, get a job, and at some point we determine that learning and trying things is no longer mandatory. Learning becomes optional. We simply want to relax, feel that we’ve graduated from learning, or maybe, eventually, use our age as an excuse to stop learning and trying.
So, this muscle weakens. We use our age as a crutch to give up on things, stop learning, and stop growing.
“Most people say that as you get old you have to give up things. I think you get old because you give up things,” said Theodore Francis Green, an avid tennis player into his late eighties and prominent Rhode Island Senator into his nineties.
What if challenging ourselves was an antidote to growing old? What if we stopped comparing ourselves against where we think we should be by now or what society dictates as age acceptable and started living the life we imagine?
What if we reconnected with our inner child who just learned to walk, and gave ourselves the chance to step outside of the lines we’ve drawn in our own minds to do the things of our dreams, accomplish the goals of our youth, and shape the legacy we hope to leave behind for our children?
Each of us has one life to live. If we had given up on walking as a child, we never would’ve come this far. We must be relentless in the pursuit of our goals. We must see the value in our differences, and the wealth of knowledge we are to each other, regardless of our age.
But most importantly, we must never give up. The only thing worse than giving up is wishing that we hadn’t.
We owe it to ourselves to persist, to chase our dreams. We can either live the life we dream of or watch the death of the person we were meant to be. We choose.
Choose to walk. Choose to rise up from the places we’ve been. Choose to break free of limitations we’ve placed upon ourselves. Age is just a number, not our identities. We are who we choose to become, who we allow ourselves to be.
So, what will you choose? What limitations are holding you back? How will you find a way instead of an excuse?