This past weekend I had the opportunity to accompany a friend to Santa Barbara to watch her daughter run in the Santa Barbara Marathon. Her daughter’s friend had convinced her to run the half-marathon. The friend had chosen the Santa Barbara Marathon as the one they would run together. They trained separately for the half marathon because one of them lives in Colorado and the other in Las Vegas. They had never run a marathon before and one week before, her friend backed out and my friend’s daughter would be running alone.
We arrived the day before the marathon and went with to pick up the running packet the night before and scope out where we would watch the race from the next morning. Santa Barbara is beautiful and there were plenty of locations to watch the race from but we chose to be in the stadium where the finish line was located. The final portion of the race involved entering the college’s track field and running 3/4 of the track around to the finish line.
The runners came filing in one after another and you could see them round the track to the finish line with the ocean and palm trees as the backdrop for the event. I did a lot of thinking as I was standing next to the finish line. My friend’s life had taken a very unexpected turn in the past year that left her alone at age 57. Not where she planned on being near retirement. She has a lot of questions in her life which started me thinking about what direction I want my life to take. What is my plan?
Each of these runners had a plan for accomplishing their goal of completing the marathon. They had made time for exercise, running and meal planning to help them succeed. They thought of their goal well in advance of when they needed to complete it to allow ample time to prepare for it. They enlisted help from the “experts” to gain as much knowledge about marathon running to help reach their goal. Each found like-minded people to surround them and encourage them to attain their goal. Finally when the day arrived they showed up to run their race.
There are choices to be made. We all know where we don’t want to be at the end of our lives but somehow that is exactly where we end because we haven’t been proactive in determining our path. I don’t want to just end up at some destination in life like riding in a canoe on a river without a paddle. I know that I want to travel as time permits. This past weekend was one such opportunity. A new place to go where I’ve never been before. We need to take small opportunities along the way to enjoy life and not just wait until after retirement to do it. Sometimes during retirement or before, life throws you an unexpected curve ball in the form of illness or death.
Life’s menu is an endless smorgasbord. Sometimes we need to go against Mom and Dad’s advice and have our dessert before the entrée. Choosing the kind of dessert is the hard part. For me, I think it will be a sample platter that gives me the opportunity to try as many things as possible with still room for more. I’ve achieved one life goal already. I obtained my private pilot certificate in April of 2010.
The day after I received my certificate I took my husband for a local flight. On the way home from the airport he asked me “What’s next?” I think he was afraid to ask thinking my answer might be something like “Climb Mount Everest”. Honestly at this point in time I don’t know what is next in my life but I know with certainty that if I don’t pursue other interests of mine they won’t happen. They will be missed opportunities.
As Gregg Hake put it so plainly in his recent blog post The Antidote to Premature Aging http://gregghake.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/the-antidote-to-premature-aging/ “No matter how old you are right now, dear reader, you are as young as you will ever be for the rest of your life. It’s never too late to start! Take up that hobby or activity that you’ve always thought would be interesting. What do you have to lose?”