What would you do if you believed you would not fail? Lucille Borgen at 91 won the Women 10 shalom and tricks event at the Annual Water Ski National Championships in 2004. Bill Anderson was 81 when he completed a bicycle ride from San Diego, California, to Jacksonville Beach, Florida, to raise $3,000 and national awareness for the homeless. I read about these and other senior citizens who were still in the dance of life in a book written by Mark Victor Hansen and Art Linkletter. I wonder if these athletes believed they would not fail when they started.
Recently I met a friend and said, “TGIF!” Pre-retirement TGIF was something I said with well deserved gusto at the end of my work week. I have to confess that everyday seems like Friday or probably more like Saturday when many people retire. It’s easy to lose track of what day it is because there is a familiar routine (a.k.a. rut) that melts insidiously from one day into the next if you embrace the “I deserve to do nothing now” philosophy.
I wondered what I would do if I believed that I wouldn’t fail. I’m no stranger to the sting of losing. I used to run in 10K races (in my younger days). I remember training for months to run in the Elizabeth River Run in Virginia. My time was good. I had consistently run more than six miles, so I felt confident that I had a chance to win in my age group. The morning of the race I woke up with a terribly sore throat. About the four mile mark, I hit the wall and stopped. Something I had never done in a race before. One of my running buddies came along side me, grabbed my shoulder and got me back in the race. I finished with an embarrassing time. Even mothers pushing baby strollers finished before me! I have hit the wall in other things I’ve attempted, but I never used the word failure.
Let me beg the question: what would I do if I believed that I wouldn’t fail? I would write a best-selling book. You know, the kind that immediately is picked up on Oprah’s Book of the Month Club. Like Nickolas Sparks’ novels, my book would be made into an Academy Award Winning movie with Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt scheduled to play the lead roles. Remember: I believed it would happen.
Reality check. I have written three books. Suffice to say, Nickolas Sparks doesn’t have me over for dinner to discuss my next project, and I’ve been waiting years for Oprah to call. I still keep writing. I write because I love the whole process of creating an idea, selecting words that convey intended meaning, and hoping someone gets it. I can only fail if I don’t try.
At 85 Theodore Mommsen became the oldest person to receive a Nobel Prize in Literature. Hope springs eternal when you’re still in the dance of life.