Too Old to Surf?
Packing for a 5 day retreat at the Modern Elder Academy, I have a good idea on how to get started.
Mexico, May, likely hot during the day, cool at night. Simple enough. Better check the agenda just to make sure. Looks like most of the day is spent in a combination teaching moments and experiential learning. So, just street clothes, business casual. Check. Got it.
But then …. I see morning and evening activities. Yoga, great, I love yoga. Horseback riding, even better, it’s been years, and I love horses. I’ll take my jeans. They have a hot tub, wonderful, l loooove hot tubs, throw in the bathing suit. What’s this? Surfing? Well, I am too old for that. I’ll sleep in that day.
I arrive late in the day in good time to refresh for our opening dinner introductions. All good. Day two we start off with intention setting in the sand. I think, “I am with my people!” I love this. As the day goes, we learn, we share, we expand our ideas of what is possible and then we get to the heart of the matter, mindset.
At 66, I have released old beliefs, gone deeper, released more and so I think to myself, no worries, I got this. There isn’t a mindset or belief holding me back. I’ll be the master here, I am done…. Oh… what a tricky path the ego sets up for us.
Chip sets it up beautifully, discussing fixed and growth mindset. Again, my ego checks in, no worries, you are a growth mindset person, you know it is all about learning and expanding. Then comes the challenge. Look and see what mindsets or habits of mind are holding me back. I scribble a few down, my heart is open, my ego is resting. Then the “I got you moment” comes, and I write down, I am old, therefore…….
Therefore, no one wants to hear what you have to say.
Therefore, you are irrelevant.
Therefore, you can't surf.
We are asked that evening to write down one belief we want to let go of. I know in my heart of hearts, at the core of my being that this “thing” about being old is holding me back. It is always there. Always whispering to me, you are old, therefore…
So I write this down on a piece of paper… I am old, therefore….. and I burn it in the fire pit. I declare before my newfound friends that age is just a word we ascribe meaning to. In the fire, I let go of the reason, I am old, therefore…
Chip gives me a bracelet, to remind me of my commitment to release this belief. Finally, I am honest with myself. I say, Self, you are ready to let this go. It is holding you back. Making you small. Keeping you in a space of limited possibility. Which honestly makes no sense, as I live and breathe possibility for others! So, my heart says, you must live and breathe it for yourself.
The next couple of days are a wonderful combo of learning, experiential sharing and looking within. The time comes to sign up for surfing class. I am standing at the sign up sheet with folks, most of whom are 20 years younger than I. But my excuse, I am too old, was thrown into the fire. I am wearing my bracelet, the one to remind me of my commitment to let go of “I am old, therefore….”
So now what is my reason? What is my excuse? I can’t say, “I am old, therefore…”
Scott looks at me and says, “If I am going surfing, you are going surfing.” Now I have no excuse, plus a challenge!! How am I going to get out of this? I am a sucker for a challenge. And I committed to giving up the old thing.
So I sign up and say, I will go, just watch, not surf. The whole surfing thing flits in and out of my mind for the next day. Every hour or so.. are you surfing? No, just go. No, try it. NO!!!!!
Then comes the day…. to get up and go surfing. It is overcast, lots of fog, YEA! It will be cold. My new reason is right there, on the tip of my tongue. It is too cold. I don’t like the cold. I will just watch.
We get to the beach. We are given instructions on how to get on, up and ride the surfboard. I watch, I listen, and think, it is too cold. But I know in my heart of hearts, the real reason is, I am feeling too old. The belief I promised to let go of…here it is, am I going to buckle? I am going to give into it? How much more control am I going to give “I am old” in my life?
"Enough!” I declare inside myself. Brya, my surfing instructor, totally unconcerned about my age, says, “let’s go”.. and so I go.. I am doing this….
Next he says, “I will tell you when the wave is right, then follow the instructions. Lift your body, get on your knees. Turn sideways, squat and most of all, keep your eyes on the horizon.”
The first wave I execute perfectly. I am standing on the surfboard. So exciting. Then, I get nervous and look down at my feet. Splash, I am in the water.
Second wave, I try again, I fail. Byra says, “Not your fault, a wave came up behind you. Try again.” I hear the voice inside myself say, “You are not too old. The wave came up behind you.”
Third wave, I am up. Eyes on the horizon, I am going. Still going, so exciting. I can’t believe I have not fallen off…. Perhaps…. I am not too old. Perhaps… age is just a word I give meaning to. I can let go of that meaning and just be me… the one I came to be.
Mackey McNeill, CPA/PFS lives her joy at work helping business owners achieve the 3 freedoms of prosperity: money freedom, time freedom and freedom from worry… and at home, find her in nature, gardening, cooking amazing food or hanging with her grandchildren and dear friends.