Nope. I’m not talking about re-sparking old romances. It is rather heady to reconnect with your high school sweetheart or your first crush. But there are other loves that pack as hefty a punch at this stage that have nothing to do with “boy meets girl” or “girl meets boy.” The magic I’m looking at here is the delight of coming back to things you used to love to do but lost track of.
Yes, we evolve; some of what we spent the bulk of our time on no produces a glimmer of excitement. Listening to Beatles songs and swooning over that George Harrison poster don’t ring your chime like they did when you were thirteen. Likewise, pitching green apples at passing cars is probably not up for renewal. I’ve gotten three great lessons in things that you do want to resurrect in the last few days though.
I met two new friends today, in two different contexts. Each had a story to tell about something they’d recently reconnected with that was making a big difference in their lives.
The first was a woman with a strong pedigree in finance who owns her own business and is venturing beyond the safe and familiar in what she’d doing with her career. Simultaneously, things have been very challenging personally, particularly with her mother’s increasing dementia and her dad’s denial of that reality. The poor woman probably doesn’t have time to turn around given all her current responsibilities. But six months ago, she decided to go back to something that had always brought her joy—ice skating—in a new way. She joined a synchronized ice skating team.
She’s not the youngest member of the team, but she’s not the oldest either. She was like everyone else in one very important way. She loves to figure skate. Being part of the team is an ideal version of this joy for this time in her life. A team effort means she has to focus on the team’s workout instead of whatever is crashing down around her ears beyond the rink. She has teammates—wonderful people who support her. Even better, they’re good—a great way to confirm your own worth when the personal pieces seem to be in tatters.
My second new friend is returning to an earlier version of work that he loved. He’s not shifting his career back that way though. He’s chosen instead to “dabble” as a strategy to move in that direction as he prepares for his version of retirement. His passion? Publishing. Only now as he starts to play in that arena again, he has years of experience with business plans and management as well a deep love of books and writing to help him make things work.
You can hear the excitement in his voice when he speaks of the project where he’s currently testing his combined old and new skills. His vision of retirement in uniquely his, and it’s already adding energy to his life.
The third example is me. For the last seven years, I’ve focused on creating resources to help our culture create a wiser blueprint for what we do after 50. I’m still passionate that we need a smarter approach for everyone’s sake. But that message is now coming from more and more voices so my role can start to diminish. My treat is to myself is to write fiction.
After a self-imposed hiatus, I’m back to the delight of “playing God” in the stories I come up with. I, too, have had some difficult challenges of late. Knowing I’m going spend time with my stories every day makes those challenges less difficult.
It’s hard to describe the joy of coming back to the favorite pursuits of younger years. It’s a bit like meeting a dear but long-lost friend, learning all over again how much you enjoyed having him/her in your life, and then discovering that very special person is moving in next door to you.
We are so lucky when the things we love circle back and catch our attention and devotion again. Usually, it’s not exact same effort as when we were so enthralled the first time. Most often, it’s even more magical—both because of all the things learned in the meantime that make you more effective and because you cherish it more because it was lost.
You’re not living in the past if you pick up old pastimes. You’ve had the chance to reconnect with an old friend. Enjoy!
This article originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Barbara Morris’s online newsletter Put Old on Hold.
Mary Lloyd is a speaker and consultant and author of Supercharged Retirement: Ditch the Rocking Chair, Trash the Remote, and Do What You Love. For more, see her website .