looking ahead: inauguration blues

Inauguration BluesJanuary 2017 has nearly run its course; a twelfth of the new year is already history. What of the resolutions to inaugurate new habits and new pursuits, to look ahead as a high-school student looks toward college, as a college student looks toward a job or graduate school? Those in their teens and 20s are more often than not filled with the idealistic perspective of the need for education, of making a lasting impact, of personal growth.

With the calendar’s relentless progression when the 30s and 40s can seem to pass so quickly, with increasing job and family responsibilities, with the constant need to try finding time for exercise and sleep, who has time to inaugurate a skill like learning a new language? (The phrase ‘foreign language’ is increasingly fading as the world’s borders become ever closer, despite current walls and divisions.) Who has time to inaugurate an exercise routine when just getting out of the house in the morning and back in at night can seem to elevate the heart rate too much?

The 50s and 60s often bring measurable achievement across a kaleidoscopic range of family, career and community (and wider) impact. Yet it would appear that a large portion of these people reach a certain point in life and they’re looking more toward retirement than looking forward to continuing to learn and develop skills, or serve nonprofit organizations pro bono, or inaugurate a new community program.

Others, though, even into their 70s and 80s, continue to seek, to grow, to learn, to give back. Yes, it can surely be difficult to start new projects, to look ahead to new areas of life, to seek out new friendships and relationships. Such inauguration blues—however initially daunting—can turn into some of the most meaningful and stimulating of life’s often unexpected turns. Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln, for example, didn’t make their mark until after turning 50. Colonel Sanders began KFC in his 60s; Grandma Moses started to paint in her 70s. Countless people, well-known and not, fit this profile.

The actress Mary Tyler Moore, who died today at 80, expressed the edge that many feel, that internal tension that keeps them eagerly going: “I work because I enjoy it. I only enjoy doing things that frighten me a little bit.”

Go for it. Look ahead. Inaugurate that new project or skill. As for those other 1600 inauguration blues, that’s another story entirely.