The other day, an aspiring yoga teacher wrote me a note in response to an article I’d written. In my article, I had referred to my long corporate career that was blended with the years I had been teaching yoga. She said she was trying to figure out how old I was and figured we were around the same age. She said it gave her faith, because she wanted to start teaching yoga and thought she might be too old.
When we talked further on the phone, I flat out asked her, “If teaching yoga is really what you want to do, what choice do you have?” My point was that if you really want to pursue something, your age is really incidental. Passion is an expression of the heart and age is just a factor of your life.
Now, certainly if you’d like to be a fighter pilot and your eyesight is not 100 percent or you’d like to be in the medical field, but you’ve never gone to medical school, these factors can be a barrier. But with creative thinking, there is always a way to follow your dreams.
Living in our neighborhood, I see lots of examples of people pursuing their passion, regardless of age. Classes at Charlestown Yoga are a beautiful reflection of the practice of yoga for all ages. Working with our pre-schools in the neighborhood is another example of seeing people who love working with children -- and believe me, it takes tremendous energy to work with kids! Watching the runners in our neighborhood train on our cobblestone streets and seeing our local business owners, many who left the corporate world to follow their heart, are all other examples of living your passion despite your age.
Sometimes, we can get hung up on the details and it prevents us from making a start, even in a small way. In talking to my aspiring yoga teacher friend, we talked about first steps that involved things like researching teachers she might want to train with, helpful books she might read and one-day courses she might take. For you, it could be something as small as taking a course or having an informational interview with someone in your desired field. Taking a first step, however small, can help us feel like we’re feeding our passion, which is so important for feeling “life force” coursing through our veins.
We can also sometimes get hung up on how we’ll execute our plan because of our age. For instance, in the case of someone who loves the medical field but doesn’t find it realistic to pursue a formal medical education given their age, there can be other ways to stay connected to the medical field that don’t involve years of schooling.
Working as a home health aide or a physical therapy aide is an option that requires less formal education. Even working for the Red Cross doing CPR training can give you a chance to stay connected to your passion for medicine. Reading to local kids can be a way for someone inspired to be a teacher to feed that passion without making the full commitment to teaching.
When we focus on our age and let it be a barrier to us doing what we want, even in a small way, we slowly die inside. Our light that keeps us shining brightly in all that we do slowly dims and eventually extinguishes. Rather than thinking of your age as being a challenge, think of it as an advantage. A yoga teacher that’s in her 40s? What wisdom she’ll bring to her classes. A person in his 60s who reads to kids? What a wise and comforting (think: Santa Claus) persona he’ll bring to kids. A CPR instructor in their 70s? What an inspiration!
We say it all the time -- “age is just a number.” But can we really live it? Why not try? What do you have to lose?