I listen closely because the question and tone are familiar; often ricocheting around in my own head and through conversations with other people my age. One of this blog’s readers commented after the last post on the very same subject, so it’s a query that seems to be uppermost in a lot of people’s minds. Every time I pass by the starting drop at the top of a ski mountain I used to attack with relish in my youth, I ask myself what’s become of my capacity to take risk. The list of reasons it would be stupid for me to ski off-piste now, having nothing to do with my strength or conditioning which are both arguably better than they were in my youth, overwhelms my acceptance of the challenge. I’m not alone. I find most people my age have learned that saying ‘no’ to the things they don’t want to do anymore is the privilege of maturity. It frees up time to do what you like. But why don’t we want those adventures now when they were very much a part of our early living? Do maturity and the fear of being physically vulnerable make wimps of us all?
Some say they were able to complete daring feats in their early years because they didn’t know how hard they were. But those exploits refer mostly to external challenges; athletic prowess, physical technique in music and the arts, deprivation caused by harsh environments endured without forethought. Surely most of us don’t want to live the second half of our lives giving up our precious time to physical recovery and rehabilitation, or risking the resources we’ve gained over a lifetime of work whether they’re physical, emotional or financial. But the special realization we come to is that we’re no longer tied to the ‘success’ machine. We don’t have to prove ourselves to an outside world any longer. At last we can go inside ourselves to live the greatest adventure of all. Wimps, sit up and take notice: there’s a good reason they say old age is not for you, and it’s not because disease and infirmity are the greatest threats. It’s because the personal adventures inside your own head can offer the biggest challenges .