I’ve always been a passionate person. Passion has filled my life. When I’m interested in something, I go for it, and I’ve been blessed with abundant energy. My 64-year-old partner has a hard time keeping up with me!
But I’ve noticed since turning 70 that my mojo is sometimes lagging. Sometimes, after a good night’s sleep, I’m tired. I wondered about this at first. Is it just aging? Do I get enough sleep? Is my diet affecting my energy? Is it a health issue?
I love my work and I’m generally a happy and healthy person. But this was starting to annoy me.
Then I went to Bangkok with my friend, Victoria, on a visa run. I saw suppliers there and had things made. It was a perfect week.
We stayed in our favorite room overlooking the Chao Praya River – a major working waterway in Bangkok. We ate our favorite duck soup for breakfast, had copious glasses of Thai iced tea, we shopped, and we listened to monks chanting.
A long-time Thai friend took me to a temple that was special to his father. The gatekeeper let us into the main room, locked to the public.
Suddenly, my passion was re-ignited. In seeing new things, new inspiration came. I drew ideas on scraps of paper in coffee shops, so I wouldn’t forget them. I bought unusual elements to put in our necklaces and sculptures. I started dreaming of creative ideas during the night.
Out all day, often walking for hours, we climbed five flights of stairs up to our room at the end of the day, since our guest house had no elevator. But the energy was there, revived. I’m not implying I was walking like a 30-year-old, but the lag I’d been feeling was gone.
I’ve thought about this a lot since came home to Bali, and I think it all boils down to three things: change, inspiring people, and play.
We had dinner with two Thai women friends I’ve known for years. Happily retired now, Burapan’s hobby is discovering new coffee houses all over Bangkok. This passion takes her to places in the city she’s not explored before.
She often photographs with her cell phone on these excursions and turns the photos into works of art with a phone app. This is her first foray into creating art. Her face lights up as she shows me her images.
Yama, on the other hand, is still a professional baker and teacher. Her current passion is making kefir, a cultured milk drink. After dinner, she took us back to her kitchen and gave us both some of her kefir starter, so we could make it at home too. Her enthusiasm and elfin-like energy were infectious.
I realize that part of what inspired me on this trip was being with other switched-on people. Who we spend time with affects us. Having inspiring people in our lives, and especially from our own age group, gives us a boost.
This was not my first trip to Bangkok. I sometimes go twice a year. But I always find something new. My late husband Bob and I came for the first time in 1987.
In 2009, Bangkok was our last trip together, as Bob went deep into Alzheimer’s. I wrote about the terrifying experience of losing him on a crowded Bangkok street in my book, Piece by Piece: Love in the Land of Alzheimer’s.
Just getting away from my routine and the urge to work instead of play was a relief. Gazing at the river, watching the tugboats pulling heavy barges upriver, or watching the neon-lit disco-dinner boats in the evening mesmerized me.
Victoria and I took a Thai cooking class and had a great time learning some of our favorite Thai dishes. We seriously played in Bangkok.
In his TED talk Stuart Brown said, “Play leads to brain plasticity, adaptability, and creativity… Nothing fires up the brain like play.”
It’s easy to get stuck in our routines and forget about play or feel unproductive if we do play. But it’s an important element in keeping our passions alive.
So, if you feel your passion for life waning, try introducing some changes. You don’t need to go to exotic foreign places – just find new ones near you to explore. Spend time with people you admire and who inspire you in some way. And don’t forget to play.
Now that I’m home, I’m still reveling in the renewed energy and enthusiasm I gained on the trip. I’m also up to my ears in kefir… that stuff grows like crazy – it’s taking over the kitchen!
Do you have any ideas for keeping your passions alive after 60? What do you do for play? And who inspires you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.