There is a classic image of a senior citizen driving with their turn signals continuously on and poking along 20 miles under the speed limit on the highway. A popular comedian once quipped that if he was 80 years old, he would “drive like hell” since, after all, why not take some risks at 80?
It’s true that as we move into our senior years, we do become a bit cautious in how we conduct our affairs. Now, if you have health difficulties that a fall or a serious illness could prove life-threatening, those precautions are called for. In defiance of that comedian’s remarks, our lives are precious and just because we are closer to the final years of our lives doesn’t mean we want to see our lives end too soon and miss out on a minute of this time on earth and time with our children and grandchildren.
But one aspect of that joke has some food for thought as we think about our lifestyle as senior citizens. There may be some good reasons to get out there and take some risks in life and to enjoy the thrill that a little danger can bring. Recently the elder President George Bush went skydiving even though he was well into his senior years. His life of achievement showed that President Bush was not afraid of a challenge. And by getting out there and doing something fun and that may have been a dream of his, he showed that our senior years are not all about rocking chairs and naps. It’s also a time to live out our dreams.
Some risks, like skydiving, can be done with the guidance of skilled professionals to help reduce the actual dangers. But the illustration of what President Bush did emphasizes one rationale to “go for it” and take some risks in our retirement years. For one thing, it’s a tremendous inspiration to younger people when they see their elders exhibiting courage and a willingness to get out of their comfort zone. Many times your own children may be the ones who need that kind of inspiration that they too should live life courageously and not let fear stop them from enjoying every moment.
Another great reason to take a risk is that it may be a great way to bond with family. Not long ago, I had the chance to go white water rafting with my grandson. Now I am not an adventurer and not in physical shape to do anything athletic. But this was a moment where I could establish a bond with my grandson by going into a great adventure with him and coming out of it with great stories. Because I am writing this article for you shows that I made it. There were a few heart-stopping moments but I wouldn’t trade those moments with him for the world. You too may be presented with a chance to make a memory with a loved one by taking a risk. And it’s worth going for it, in a reasonable fashion, to capture that memory and build that bond as well.
Some risks you might take don’t involve physical danger. Maybe you need to finally take the plunge and get up at the local open mic night and deliver that stand-up comedy routine you have been polishing up with the family. They say there is nothing more terrifying than facing a crowd and trying to make them laugh. But when you hear their laughter and their applause, that will be a dream come true for the amateur comic in you.
So consider taking a few risks as you plan your activities in your busy retirement schedule. The rush of adrenaline will put some spring in your step and give your heart rate a workout. But it will also add some fun and adventure to your life. And that is something we all can use.