Aging typically brings unwanted changes in our energy and in the strength, stamina and flexibility of our bodies. Even women and men in the best of shape find that they can’t run quite as far or as fast as they used to and can’t do the backbends, handsprings and cartwheels of their yesteryears. It is natural to go through feelings of disappointment and discouragement as we discover these limitations.
The people I’ve talked to who seem the happiest have found a way to grieve and let go of their former capabilities without giving up being active and engaged in physical activity. Often you can still engage in the same activities but find lower intensity levels of participation that still provide joy, fulfillment and growth. These may involve the activities you loved in the past or newly discovered interests. Many times you can still participate in the activities you once felt passionate about but in a slightly different way.
For example, someone who loves horseback riding might let go of jumping or endurance riding but continue with dressage, reining or trail-riding. A dancer may shift from intensely athletic forms of dance such as ballet, jazz or modern dance but still enjoy ballroom dancing, line dancing or swing. Marathon runners may opt for shorter races or may take up jogging, swimming, bicycling or hiking as an alternate activity. While there are certainly a few people of all ages who can continue their activities at the same level of intensity as when they were younger, this is not true for the majority of us.
The best way to move beyond grieving our limitations is to find new passions to embrace or old passions to embrace in new ways. This is true whether we are talking about our physical, mental or professional abilities. Grieving is natural but prolonged grief robs us of the possibilities of our now. Our capabilities and energy levels usually continue to change over time, so don’t put off engaging in the activities you love and can still do now. In 5, 10, or 15 years, some of those activities, too, may exceed your grasp. Find and exercise your passions today.