Featured music: “Brother Down” by Sam Roberts
When is it an appropriate time in life to stop taking risks? When your bones are creaking? When your face is weathered and your hair is graying?
I’ve always been fearful of change. I like having my feet cemented into solid ground. I like knowing that the people I count on will be there when I need them and that my consistent and comfortable places never change and hearts never wander and feelings never sour. Oh, also that Steven Tyler is going to knock on my door to hang out and that unicorns exist. The fact is – time flows rapidly. Time flows rapidly and wears down its path, shaping and transforming anything that gets in its way. And fact: the older you get, the more rapidly it flows.
I’m learning that there is no sense in watching time flow and morph everything around you while you just stand there and pretend that your world is rigid. Everything is made to move. Planes, trains and automobiles are here to transport, technology is here to keep evolving and humans are here to grow and learn and keep growing. Taking risks in life is what transforms us and evolves us each into the next chapter or facet of our being.
I can honestly say that over the past few years, I’ve lost or weakened connections with people in my life because they have grown and I have stood still. I’ve watched friends dive head first into new relationships and discover moments they didn’t know could ever exist. I’ve seen them crack smiles that are unlike any other smile I’ve seen cross their lips. I’ve watched friends dive into new jobs, new education, new cities (my BFF Prairie Jess, for example – or a BFF who abruptly picked up and booked it to work construction in another province for the summer – and lived in a hotel! WOW!).
And admittedly and lamentably, I’ve stood pretty still.
Three things I know life is too short for: bad coffee (Winnipeg boasts some of the greatest coffee I have EVER experienced – looking at you Parlour), negative / toxic energy and life is too short to NOT TAKE RISKS. Regret is a feeling I don’t wish upon anyone, and the only way to avoid it is to jump at the opportunities life rolls out in front of you. And in most cases – it’s never the end of the world if you just try it. You can usually go back home. You can usually quit that job or exit that course. Just like blood is in you to give, opportunity is always in you to try. Try. Succeed. Try. Fail. Try again. Smile. Try. The damn Beatles took a risk and they were REJECTED. But guess what – they tried again – AND THEY BECAME THE FREAKING BEATLES. What would have happened if risk scared them too much to try? No White album, that’s what. Or Rubber Soul. And I’m really glad I don’t know a world without In My Life.
Sometimes I look at past relationships or chances I have taken and feel so much hatred for the emotions I had to feel when things came crashing down. But although it pains me – I am eternally grateful for that pain, for that experience. I forced my hand onto the element but that burn is a reminder that I took that risk and I learned from it. I felt those highs and those lows and life is about FEELING new sensations every single day. I took a romantic weekend trip on a whim to San Francisco with someone and although that relationship eventually escalated into .. rubble – I look back on that adventure with only the fondest heart. I went to Jack Kerouac alley, guys. GUYS.
Kerouac quote (sorry, but he’s my wordsmith hero): “What’s in store for me in the direction I don’t take?”
I don’t want to know. And sadly, if you don’t give it a shot – you’ll never know what’s in that direction. Missed opportunity is a void that isn’t filled by anything but regret. You hear people talk about life passing them by. Don’t be that person – you don’t have to be.
The fact of the matter is you are NEVER too old to stop taking risks. But as we age physically and mentally, sometimes more roadblocks are presented on the way to opportunity. You can think of every excuse to stay motionless, but you shouldn’t be waiting around for people who aren’t waiting for you. And that’s totally okay – that’s so great for them! You just really start to notice when you’ve been lapped a few times.
The leaves are changing, the times are changing, a risk is coming. I can feel it. For you and me both. 🙂 The question isn’t when you are too old to STOP but when should you START. The answer is now. The answer is .. yesterday.