I had the pleasure of spending my weekend at my brothers house surrounded by great friends and two days of intense sport. We spent sunday playing basketball and afterwards we all chatted about how old we were getting : ) I realized that how I felt wasn’t so much the age, but how long it had been since we played last, yet saying it was “age” was something everyone could agree with and easily understand. Later we talked about success and the importance of “commitment” to goals.
Both of those subjects reminded me of a story in a book I recently read called, “Luck is no Accident.” Since I still have it, I’ll copy the story here in the hopes that it might inspire others.
When reading the story I hope that its’ meaning isn’t marginalized by the youthfulness of your body (after all you aren’t 87… yet : ), but instead changes the perspective of the way you see things.
The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn’t already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder. I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being.
She said, “Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I’m eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?”
I laughed and enthusiastically responded, “Of course you may!” and she gave me a giant squeeze.
“Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?” I asked.
She jokingly replied, “I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids…”
“No seriously,” I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.
“I always dreamed of having a college education and now I’m getting one!” she told me.
After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake.
We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this “time machine” as she shared her wisdom and experience with me.
Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.
At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet. I’ll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor.
Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, “I’m sorry I’m so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I’ll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know.”
As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, “We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing.
There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success.
– You have to laugh and find humor every day.
– You’ve got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die. We have so many people walking around who are dead and don’t even know it!
– There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up. If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing; you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight. Anybody can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change.
– Have no regrets. The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets.”
She concluded her speech by courageously singing “The Rose.” She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives. The song ends with these words:
Remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snow
Lies that seed that with the sun’s love
in the spring becomes a rose.
[The ironic thing about life, is that this pattern happens over and over, for good or bad. The wonderful thing about life, is that the opportunity to plant the seed or not, is in our hands.]
At the year’s end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those years ago.
One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep. Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be.
If there is some change or thing you want in your life now? Did you want the same thing last year? Ok, so… if you wanted it the same before, and you are here now, what’s to say you wont be having the same thoughts next year, still no closer to your goal.
Today though, you have an advantage. You know that just having the desire won’t make it happen (thinking back over the last year), and you know that what you want will not simply go away (you will still want it next year) so change course and make a commitment to do it now. Start with a plan and tell yourself that you’ll only do that first step. After that, you have the choice, take the next step, or realize that you didn’t really want it after all and move on. Either way, you wont have the same conversation with yourself next year 🙂