essays

Too Late to be A Rock Star

55chevyReached that point in life when you’ve begun to think you will never: Make a million dollars. Be a rock star. Hike to the top of Mt. Everest. Earn a black belt. Win an Oscar. Go skydiving. Become a concert pianist. Win the Nobel.

The Nobel and the Oscar could be tough, but is everything else really off the table? If you have always wanted to be a goldsmith, is there a reason why you can’t apprentice yourself to a goldsmith and learn the trade? Ask yourself what you’d like to be doing right now if you weren’t still working or now that you are retired. It might be the thing you wanted to do when you got out of college, but you had to get a job instead. Learn welding and become a metal sculptor; write poetry; compose music with GarageBand; learn computer programming; take a trip to Nepal (maybe forget about climbing any mountains); try the clarinet – again; get a graduate degree; teach school; join the Peace Corps; volunteer to work at a hospital or with young children; or if all these things sound too ambitious, you could just sit back and do nothing.

Conventional wisdom would tell you that a 57 year-old would have a tough time breaking into the ranks of concert pianists,jacklalanne but it’s not impossible. I’ve read about many men and women achieving great things in their later years. There’s the writer who gets her first novel published when she’s sixty. Or the former President who first skydives at the age of 80. At the age of 60, Jack LaLanne swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman's Wharf. Handcuffed. Towing a 1,000-pound boat. John Milton was blind and composing poems in his head when he created Paradise Lost. Paul Newman was 70 when he became the oldest driver to be part of a winning team at 24 Hours of Daytona.

Are these people special, extraordinary, unique? I don’t think so. I think they are motivated and the achievement follows. I think that making the decision to pursue a dream is the first step, and that the preparation that follows is the second step. After that, it hardly matters whether you make it to the finish line or the top of the mountain. You’ve already won.

Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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