I had forgotten about the time change today – luckily my electronic devices were on top of things!! I’ve been MIA for a few months because I joined an art school – New Masters Academy – during Labor Day weekend. That, plus my full time day job keeps me occupied. Nevertheless, I love to write, so I’m back!
Oftentimes, when the question of whether to go back to school, pursue a passion, or engage in any new pursuit comes up, people question: “How long will it take for me to get good?” Upon hearing the guesstimate, we promptly make a judgment. “Nah, I’ll be too old by then.”
Yet rarely is the question asked: “What does TOO OLD actually mean?” Does it literally mean being physically too old to do it? Well, if you’re talking about the Olympics, then you may be right, although you also may be wrong. Age expectations for sports – and physical prowess in general – are being raised all the time. But, yes, for most sports, the younger the better. So if you’re a 35 year old couch potato, you’re probably right that you’re too old to start training for the Olympics. But you also probably don’t WANT to.
The way passion normally works is, we are passionate about things we have latent talent in. Now, that talent might undeveloped – or even undiscovered, if we’ve never tried it before. You can’t say one way or the other whether you have talent for something you’ve never tried. You can say that you have no skill, but that’s different. You discover talent once you start doing it. Talent is judged by how long it takes you to pick something up, and what your results are after a few years of practice. If you haven’t improved at all after a year, you may have no talent at that thing. (Although, who cares? If you love it, and you’re not hurting anybody, keep doing it anyway, you talentless hack!) But, more than likely, after a year of doing something, you can more accurately evaluate if you want to keep working on your passion or not.
Yes, work! It’s a lot more poetic (not to mention easier) to fantasize about being instantly amazing at something – having strangers pour adulation and money at your feet because you became an overnight sensation the day after you started. As popular as that fantasy is, the truth is this: most great things in this world have been achieved by passionate hard-workers. Period.
Talent is really just your innate abilities combined with your ability to focus. When that bundle is combined with training, hard work, passion, and persistence, the results can be game-changing. This has nothing to do with age or time. It takes however long it takes. But, the good news is that time flies when you’re having fun!
So, back to the question of what is “too old?” Too old is an excuse. Too old is a way to maintain the safe status quo. Too old is fear. Too old is the ego’s hatred of potential humiliation. Too old is not wanting to change. Too old is wondering if your spouse will be mad at your new life direction. Too old is worrying about 100 steps down the road instead of the baby-step right in front of you. Too old is just resistance.
And the best way I’ve learned to fight resistance is to not fight it – just side-step it. Patronize it, like you would an annoying person. “Yeah, maybe I am too old to go back to school, but I’m not too old to look at the brochure, right?” “And I’m not too old to register, right? I don’t have to actually go.” “I’m not too old to take one class a week, right.” Etc. Etc. Next thing you know, you’ve graduated, and your ego won’t even know what happened.
So, never let age be an excuse. If you’re still breathing, you’re not too old. Tomorrow is never promised. You’ve been given life on loan. You life is silly putty to make into a masterpiece. You don’t have the right to waste your life. It’s not really yours to waste. It’s a loaner, and one day you’ll have to give it back. If you’re not already living the life you want to live, you should be spending most of your free time working on it.
I don’t care how old you are.
Have a blessed week,
Here are a few sketches from this week.