10/20/2011 05:10 pm ET Updated Dec 20, 2011

Aging: Going Where You've Never Been Before

Imagine that you're floating in a raft on a calm stretch of river when you detect a faint noise in the distance. At first you don't pay attention, preferring to enjoy the peace and beauty around you. Gradually the noise becomes louder and louder, distracting you from the present moment.

Over time your curiosity becomes nervousness, then anxiety, and finally fear. The noise is from a major rapid that you now know is looming downstream. As you get closer, and the noise level increases even more, you finally see the rapid, and it looks chaotic and dangerous. All of a sudden your peaceful float has turned into a threat -- to your well-being, your sense of security, your way of life, maybe even your life.

Sound familiar? It's what all of us could eventually experience, something we call aging. For a long time we ignored it. Then we tried to deny it. In most cases it seemed out of our control at best, and daunting and hopeless at worst.

If you want to go where you've never been before, you have to go where you've never been before. This is the challenge we all face as we consider life after 50 (and before). When it comes to getting older, common attitudes towards aging, like being upstream of a major rapid, speak of the potential for loss: declining health, physical loss, social loss, changes in physical appearance, declining cognitive ability, depleting financial resources. 

Fortunately, it doesn't have to be that way. Our intention in this blog is to inspire you to reframe the aging process -- to turn it from a focus on "inevitabilities" to an adventure by embracing the "possibilities" and dealing effectively with the challenges of change.

As a commercial raft guide in the Grand Canyon since 1978, I (Charly) know about running big rapids and going with the flow. I am now 69 and happily doing the work usually reserved for women and men in their 20s and 30s, having just completed my 110th Grand Canyon raft trip. I (Mike) am 65 and currently embracing the rapids of a new start-up business.