As we get older, there’s a tendency to cross certain physical activities off the list as being too childish, too dangerous, or simply beyond our strength, agility, and balance. But are they? How many of those physical challenges are off the list for no more reason than we’ve lost our courage to try?
Remember when we used to see a rock and instantly want to climb it? Remember how it was—walking along at our parents’ boring pace, searching for ways to make the journey more exciting? Every fence had to be climbed, every ledge had to be walked, and every obstacle was an opportunity to catapult ourselves into the air. When was the last time we did that as an adult?
If you’re one of the more playful types, you probably did something like this today. And if you did, I would bet that you feel young at heart, courageous in spirit, and fairly agile for an old fart! Unfortunately, not all of us feel this way often enough.
If what’s stopping us is the cruel reality of aging joints and debilitating conditions, then we might need to listen. But if what’s stopping us is an unreasonable fear of injury, a reminder that things can get a little unwieldy as we get older, or just good old-fashioned embarrassment, then perhaps we should reconsider.
Let’s face it, a lot of what keeps us from trying is the fear that we’ll fail and make a damn fool of ourselves! But what’s wrong with that? One of the benefits of age is that we can let go of that nonsense. I’m sure we’ve all done things that are way more embarrassing than falling off a curb, and yet, how many of us avoid balancing on one for precisely that reason?
To be clear, I’m not talking about pushing the limits—that’s a different blog—I’m suggesting that we revisit some of the physical actions that we used to consider “no-brainers.”
The longer we don’t do a particular action, the more risk and fear is involved. If we let it go long enough, we’ll lose it forever.
A handstand is a great example of this. We’re turning ourselves upside down, challenging our balance and our perspective. We’re leaving the safety of our sturdy feet and kicking up into the unknown. We’re putting our faith into fragile wrists and trusting that our arms will support something we haven’t asked of them in decades. For many of us, this is scarier than public speaking! Of course, if a handstand was not one of your “no-brainers” then it probably isn’t a good place to start. But if you used to do handsprings and flips, then a handstand is rudimentary. And we shouldn’t give up rudimentary skills without a fight.
Continuing to challenge ourselves keeps us young and courageous. Maintaining our balance makes us feel more confident in our bodies. Doing something goofy keeps us feeling young and humble.
We’re all getting older, but it doesn’t mean we can’t have fun doing it.
So go find one of those things you used to be able to do with ease, and give it a try. Don’t pick anything too crazy, and make sure that you have the strength and agility to be able to do whatever it is safely. Choose something familiar and basic for your body that, for one reason or another, you’ve been afraid to try. Give yourself permission to work up to it in stages. Those baby steps build confidence as well as strength!
Common sense mixed with playful adventure keeps us young, courageous, and strong. Testing our balance on a daily basis makes us more stable, not just in our body, but in our mind. So go out there and have some fun!
I’m off to throw a few cartwheels into my daily walk. Why? Because I can.
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Tori Eldridge is the author of Empowered Living Expanded Edition: A Guide to Physical and Emotional Protection, available as an e-book on Amazon.