Most of us know, intellectually, that our age is just a number, but it's our emotions that trip us up. Turning 50 (or 40, or 60) can be the tipping point for a downward spiral that can last a decade or more as our perceptions of ourselves and our success begin to unravel. It can also be an opportunity for major life-altering change, the kind of change that rescues us from the fast lane of the super highway we are on and carefully sets us down on a totally different path.
Life is all about change; growing, becoming, finding our meaning and purpose in life. Some of us find it at an early age, others need to experiment and try and fail many times before we land facing the right direction and take a course that is in line with our heart and soul.
I, like many, watched the parade of "greats" that took part in the 121212 Concert at Madison Square Garden to raise funds for Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts. I was inspired and deeply proud to be a part of a generation that, more often than not, has lived out its commitment to making the world a better place.
I was fascinated to watch these mostly men (sadly), rock their hearts out with complete and total abandon, indifferent to the wrinkles on their face, the scars on their bellies, the gray in their hair or the number of birthdays they've accumulated. Bon Jovi: age 50; Bruce Springsteen: age 63; Pete Townshend: age 67; Roger Daltrey: age 68; Mick Jagger: age 69; Paul McCartney: age 70; Billy Joel: age 63. What also struck me is that they are all people who have spent their lives following their passion, living full out from the source of creativity that lives and breathes inside of them.
What if we all let loose the creative force that lives in each of us? What if we all disregarded societal norms and expectations and trusted our own instincts and intuition? Granted, I don't see what goes on in their day-to-day lives, but I did see the thrill on their faces while they performed. I could sense the generosity of spirit that brought them to the stage for this occasion to raise money for people in need. I have witnessed their lives from afar for more than forty years, and the level of commitment that it must have taken to propel them to the place of impact they now possess is admirable.
We cannot all be rock stars. We cannot all be in the spotlight. We can all, however, be legends in our own lives. We can chose to live fully every morning that we are given the gift of life. We can choose to follow our hearts, our passions, our creative drive, whatever it is and wherever it leads, thumbing our noses at society's expectations and our own.
What would the world be like if even half of us refused to look at a calendar again? Or counted the number of candles on our birthday cake? Or stopped looking in the mirror and obsessing about the number of wrinkles on our face or the size of our jeans? Does all of that really matter, or is it just our way of avoiding living from the inside out?
No matter what age you are turning this year, it's never too late to change direction. It's never too late to abandon the directives of your antiquated beliefs and connect with the glowing ember of your creative force that is just waiting for you to fan it into a raging fire. It's never too late to bring your passion into the world. Your gift is one of a kind and only you have the power to share it.