Give Yourself a Second Chance in Life

“Growing old is no more than a bad habit which a busy person has no time to form.” – Andre Maurois

There is so much you can do in the second half of your life and so many examples of people who have accomplished great things as seniors. I’ve talked about several of them in past ETR messages:

* Aristotle, Henry Flagler, and John Glenn (Message #307)

* Nelson Mandela, Mary Baker Eddy, George Burns, Grandma Moses, and Colonel Sanders (Message #308)

* Martha Graham (Message #317)

* Armand Hammer and William R. Grace (Message #319)

* Isaac Asimov (Message #409)

* Tony Bennett (Message #425)

Here are a few more to inspire you:

* Karen Blixen: Better known as Isak Dinesen, Blixen began writing fiction when her life was — by her social standards — over. Born to a distinguished Danish family, she attended Oxford, studied painting in Europe, married her cousin, and ran a coffee plantation in Africa for most of her career. Following her divorce and the subsequent failure of the plantation, she wrote “Seven Gothic Tales,” which became a best seller, and followed that up with “Out of Africa,” which was hailed (and justly so) as a great literary achievement, giving her a permanent place in the history of world literature.

* Edward Hopper:  Hopper, my favorite American painter, spent his life earning a living as a commercial illustrator. He never gave up painting, though, and began to paint the serious stuff he became known for — the dark streets, all-night diners, bleak white houses, etc. — when he was a mature man. He was well into his 60s when substantial recognition arrived, “too late,” as Brendan Gill (author of “Late Bloomers”) put it, “to do him any harm.”

* Wilbur Lucius Cross:  Cross spent the first half of his life as an academic, specializing in the development of the English novel. Upon retiring at 68, he launched himself into a political career — winning the governorship of Connecticut and successfully serving for three terms.

* Philip Johnson:  Born to a wealthy Cleveland family, Johnson spent his first 40 years living the kind of life most people dream of. The only thing he didn’t have was a career. He got one in his 40s. He enrolled in the graduate school at Harvard to study architecture, building a house for himself as a student project. He launched his practice in New York in 1945 and has since designed all sorts of prominent office buildings, museums, and churches. He was active in his business well into his 90s.

If you are nearing or past 50, stop telling yourself you are too old to do this or that.

We have a student at our Jiu Jitsu school — a local cop called “Doc” — who is 62 years old and started learning only three years ago. Needless to say, he doesn’t move as quickly as some of the younger guys; however, he’s gotten amazingly good. And he’s already achieved his first goal — he is confident that if he gets taken to the ground in some sort of violent confrontation, he’ll be able to protect himself. In January, Doc will compete in a grappling tournament in Fort Lauderdale. He’ll be the oldest competitor there — the oldest but still a badass sonofabitch.

Are you working on your lifelong dream? If not, get going. If you are over 50, ignore the critics and move forward. And if you are still young, don’t tell yourself you can do it later. Start now. Today. Do one small thing to move yourself forward and then do something else tomorrow.

Nobody will take you by the hand and walk you to the fulfillment of your dreams.

You have to start that walk alone. Do it now. One small thing.

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]