Sunday, May 13, 2012

It's Never Too Late

Usually, when I receive those emailed stories asking me to email to 7-10 other people, I scan them and then hit the delete button. This morning, though, I read one from a frequent visitor to my guest room and decided to pass it along to you.

The Secret of the Fountain of Youth

The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn't already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder.

I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being..

She said, 'Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I'm eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?'

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, 'Of course you may!' and she gave me a giant squeeze..

'Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?' I asked.

She jokingly replied, 'I'm here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids...'

'No seriously,' I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.

'I always dreamed of having a college education and now I'm getting one!' she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake.

We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this 'time machine' as she shared her wisdom and experience with me..

Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she revelled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I'll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor.

Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, 'I'm sorry I'm so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I'll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know.'

As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, ' We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing. There are only fo

ur secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humour every day. You've got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die.

We have so many people walking around who are dead and don't even know it!

There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up.

If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don't do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight.

Anybody! Can grow older. That doesn't take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change. Have no regrets.

The elderly usually don't have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets..'

She concluded her speech by courageously singing 'The Rose.'

She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives. At the year's end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those months ago.

One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep.

Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it's never too late to be all you can possibly be.

It's Never Too Late

On my 40th birthday, I celebrated the release of my first CD, Souvenir, at Club Passim in Cambridge, Mass. When I turned 41, I started touring full time all across the US and Europe. It seems like a million years ago.

A couple of years earlier, I was working at MIT and rowing on the Charles before work several mornings a week. One day I realized that, if I did not perform and create professionally as a singer songwriter, I would be a very unhappy camper at the age of 65. So, I changed my life.

Since then, I've produced six more album projects, created a load of musical and visual projects, programs, courses and exhibits, designed museum exhibits, designed and built a building, and more. I always feel like I am just getting started. At the beginning of any project, it alternately feels overwhelming and completely possible. I go into new things because of an insatiable desire for learning and new experience. Anxiety, self-doubt and mistakes are natural. So is the overcoming of those things.

I rarely feel old.

If you've always felt like drawing or trying your hand at watercolor, I highly recommend that you start planning to take action now. If you're reading this, you have the opportunity to work with an exceptional teacher through a unique online program. With drawing and watercolor, there's a learning curve and then there's practice. Both of these things take time, so the sooner you start, the sooner you'll see the results.

FYI: These days, it's a fact that a high percentage of artists start their careers after the age of 50. I'm just sayin'...

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