When I turned 50, on my actual birthday, I challenged myself to do something I had never done before. On that particular occasion, a strenuous hike that required some climbing with the aid of a rope was involved – a tad foolish, thinking back, but I think I wanted to prove to myself my body was still young.
A bit of a tradition was born – every birthday, I vowed to try something a little bit out of my comfort zone. A session with a make-up artist followed and, while I was not totally convinced that what felt like a mask was the best look for me, it gave me the impetus to not restrict these experiments to once a year: trying new things was decidedly fun – even when the outcome was different than expected – and positively therapeutic. It turned out to be a useful tool to examine myself, and my fears.
Then cancer intervened, and that was novelty enough to keep me interested for a long while. But I did notice that I tackled the whole experience as if it were a new project: with fear but also interest and tight organization and I wonder if my approach to trying new things had laid the foundations for a navigation system that helped me through that hurdle. I would like to think so.
Since then, I have said yes to the unexpected, the uninvited or just the plain different more than I said no. Where once I would have declined out of discomfort, now I sidestep the doubts and go for it.
It’s so easy to get set in our ways as we age, both mentally and physically, and, as much as Sundays on the couch are a pleasure I would not deprive myself of, for instance, I have been trying to stay open to other possibilities, even when they fall on a Sunday.
Today, for instance, I became a guinea pig, something that never entered my mind until now. I chose to participate in a study aimed at improving both the mental outlook and the immune system of former cancer patients through various techniques that do not involve medications. Being a guinea pig required I changed my already bizarre and packed schedule around and devote time I don’t really have for the next three months. But it’s in the interest of science and it’s a new experience.
So, my new motto now is “why not?”.
Have you noticed if you tend to embrace new experiences as you get older, or do you shun them?