On the eve of my last birthday, I stayed up late editing photos.
I was putting off going to bed, very much aware that when I would wake up the next morning, it would be a day that brought me another year closer to the next decade.
When I was a kid, a teenager, even a younger adult, I would wake up with huge excitement on my birthday—I love presents and parties and dressing up.
Yet last year, I felt a flurry of different emotions.
Nostalgia for my younger years nestled up to the feeling of being a young person inside a body that was growing older.
It’s scary how fast the years can pass by.
Time stops for no one.
I put on my little denim shorts and went to spend the day at the wakeboard park with my boyfriend, my kids, and some friends. We hung out in the sunshine, drinking, eating, and laughing. A few of the others went wakeboarding, but not me.
I was too scared.
I had informed my boyfriend on one of our first dates, that although I loved watching them, I did not participate in any watersports and had no intention of trying them. He asked me if I would like to try paddleboarding. I said no.
I was 45.
I had never even considered balancing myself on a board in the water in any shape or form, and I thought I was too old to start learning these things at that age anyway.
Evidently not though.
It seems I am just like the water…flowing to fit around whatever comes my way.
I eventually went in.
Into the lagoon.
Into the ocean.
I got out of my fear and into my element.
During the last year, I’ve learnt to SUP (stand-up paddleboard) and started learning to surf. I have found paddle boarding easy, whereas surfing is a lot more challenging!
I still get scared sometimes—it’s a work in progress, and you can read more about that here.
I will keep trying though because catching a wave feels like flying.
And I want to fly.
My dad’s passion is gliding—flying a plane without an engine, using naturally occurring air currents to stay airborne. A glider pilot feels the wind, the way a surfer feels the ocean.
He is in his element, in the sky.
He started flying when he was 16. It’s funny to think of him that young. He is 80 now.
Time stops for no one.
A few years ago, he had a heart attack and was told he would never fly again. He was already in his 70s, so it’s easy to think he may as well have just accepted it.
Well, guess what?
He did not go gently into that good night.
Whilst steadily regaining his strength after his heart operation, he was determined to get back into the skies again.
Nothing is over until you stop trying.
He eventually passed all the necessary medicals, got his flying license back, and as soon as he could, he was flying solo again. It took time and patience, but most of all, self-belief.
“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan
He did not, for one moment, truly believe that he would not fly again.
Sadly, people can get ill or injured at any age…and yes, it can and does stop us at times from being able to do the things we love, temporarily or permanently.
At any age.
The key is not in refusing to accept our age, but more in refusing to accept the perceived rules and boundaries that come with it.
Maybe the secret to staying young is simply believing that we are.
The other day, I saw a video on Instagram of myself dancing at a party. I was jumping up and down like an excited kid, my arms flying out and skirt flying around in reckless abandon. I felt so embarrassed about it then, but I don’t know.
I have realized that the most important thing being older can teach us is how to let go.
Let go of the restrictions of trying to fit in with the expectations of others.
Let go of the weight of your fears.
Let go of caring what anybody else thinks.
Let go of the belief that you are too old to fly.