One of my work colleagues turns 60 in a few years time, and some time back they decided that, a) Getting older was no excuse to slow down, b) Life is too short not to be living it to the full, and c) There’s a wealth of untried experiences out there, if you’re willing to step outside your comfort zone. And that’s when she came up with the idea that she was going to do 60 new things before she reached 60.
I’m sure that many of us throughout our lives have made bucket lists, set ourselves life challenges and resolved time and time again to spice up our lives, but – unlike my colleague – nothing much has ever come of it and things soon fizzle out, leaving us to return to our mundane and routine daily lives. She, however, is already half way there and recent exploits have included taking part in a triathlon, mountain climbing, and – believe it or not – bog snorkeling!
I’m both in awe of her, and somewhat ashamed to admit that many of the things that she has chosen to have a go at, youwouldn’t find me attempting in a million years… Far too athletic, energetic, and – although I fully appreciate the sense of achievement gained from taking on a difficult challenge – I can’t ever see myself in their position. On a scale of zero to superhero, I’m firmly in the ‘Joe Average’ category, and although there’s something deep inside that nags me to be something greater that I have become, my capacity to reach such goals is sadly lacking.
Certainly, when I was younger, things were very different and I did some crazy, even insane, things. Some I can look back on and smile about, others I’m still regretting to this day, but they’ve made me who I am today. At some point along the way, however, I managed to become dull and boring! People around me have gone on to great things – I have a friend who ran a marathon, despite requiring a medical support team to run with him; another friend realised their life’s dream of becoming a successful published author; one of my exes formed a charity and has set up an orphanage in Africa; others have built their own dream home, made it big in the music business, own their own companies, have climbed Everest and have navigated the Amazon.
I watched a video recently of a young woman, an independent film maker who travels the world, living the dream. She talked about her own life and how people can achieve what they set out to do, but many find excuses not to: “I don’t have the money”, “I wouldn’t know where to start”, “I have responsibilities”, “It’s too much of a risk” – and I know I do the same: A great many of us do.
It’s always surprised me just how many of the people I come across in SL are well past the first flush of youth. Most of the people I associate with inworld are in their forties and older, and over time, as these acquaintances have become friends and we’ve learned something of each other’s lives there are a couple of common themes that seem to hold true for many of us. Firstly, the past lives of many of the people I know are – quite literally – astonishing. I’ve met people inworld who’ve experienced the most profound tragedy, rubbed shoulders with the super famous and royalty, excelled in sport, music and business, and whose lives at some point seem a far cry from everyday and routine. There’s more than one person inworld that I’ve told should write a novel about their experiences.
Secondly, it also seems that a decent proportion of those same people have slipped, whether by design or circumstance into a life now that is very different from that of the past, and feel – just as I do – that something is lacking that was once there.
I wonder sometimes if part of the reason that we see so many people of a certain age, or at a certain point in their life in SL, is that the virtual world allows an alternative to a life that may, in every practical way, be perfectly OK but is nevertheless lacking the thrill, challenge, exhilaration or excitement that they once perhaps took for granted? Here in the virtual world we can indeed be the superheroes, the champions and the rockstars, when maybe our real life situation is no longer going in that direction, or has settled down into that comfortable, reliable and predictable pattern of normality that is somehow considered so desirable once you get past a certain age, even though – deep down inside – we might actually resent it, or wish that we could recapture the fun of our more youthful years. SL let’s us take the risks, misbehave and break the rules, and generally relive our past life vicariously and without consequence, and it does so very well.
However, I can’t help feeling that it’s cheating and that, just maybe, I should grasp the mettle and stop living in the past in the real world and start real living, once again, in the here and now. Less of the excuses and more of the action! And, if I really can’t get my act together and start doing something about it, then maybe I should just accept that’s the way it is and the past, no matter how glorious it may have been, is quite definitely, in the past.
There will always be those for whom the march of time and changing fortunes will never pose an obstacle to living life to the full; similarly, there are those who even when given 60 years will never get anywhere near achieving 60 successes they can look back on with pride and a smile.
I know which I’d like to be, I’m just not entirely sure how I get there!
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!” ― Hunter S. Thompson
Tonight, we are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun
Fun – We Are Young