As I walked through the small conference of meeting planners and destination managers at the Denver Conference Center, I noticed the high quality of swag.

Not only were digital photos embossed on cookies, here was the kind of truly good takeaway that you don’t often see at larger conferences. After all, these folks were showing off their wares.

On one long table offering gourmet chocolates, I saw a small stack of slim pocket 20-year calendars. I picked up two and tossed them in my swag bag.

That day I got home early because a cyclone bomb blizzard threatened to make the short drive home dangerous. So, I returned to the quiet of my house, by then blanketed by several inches of snow. The storm swirled furiously around the tall trees in my yard, their bows lashed by 79-mph winds.

A Good Day for Introspection

I dumped the swag onto the counter. Out slid the slim 20-year calendar. While munching happily on a digitally-enhanced sugar cookie, I opened it. The year 2039 slapped me in the face with all the subtlety of a tsunami wave.

In 1968, when 2001: A Space Odyssey debuted, I was just 15. I remember thinking that in the year 2001, I’d be 48. My god, I thought at the time, that is just SO OLD.

Fast forward. At 66, nearly 20 years past that particular deadline, I’m still not old, per se. Because that’s more a matter of how I feel and interact with the world, my energy and life choices around exercise and diet.

However, the inescapable reality is that in 2039 I will be 86.

At this age, as we can attest, time really does indeed fly. I don’t know about you, but for me, it was just Christmas a minute ago. Now the crocuses are starting to peep through the soil.

One of my favorite movie lines is from Gandalf, in Lord of the Rings. Frodo expresses great discomfort that he got stuck with the task of carrying the Ring back to Mordor. Gandalf says, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

Learning from the Past

This past year I had a relationship breakup that shattered me and forced me to question my value. Subsequent to that I got ill in a way that made it clear that emotions, rather than genuine sickness, was at work. As I enter my 66th year, I have different choices to make, and different options open to me.

I can be angry and hurt about the past. Or I can fill the years ahead with as much work, wonder, and wildlife as I possibly can.

I don’t doubt there will be down times. But with perhaps three, maybe four decades left to me, I also have no time to waste feeling sorry for myself or angry at my circumstances.

Such times are perfect to question what habits can be challenged. What doors we might open to something new. While I continue doing the things I love, such as adventure travel, that door will eventually begin to shut as my body requires that I mind its wear and tear a bit differently.

That’s not a loss. That’s simply evolving. I won’t stop. I will modify.

Do the Best You Can for as Long as You Can

Meanwhile I do all I can to remain healthy. I’ve hired a coach to help me overhaul my work life. I have a lifelong passion for helping women and intend to turn that into work for the rest of my life.

We are designing what that looks like. This is as exciting and terrifying as my very first sky dive. Holy Crap, Batman. That’s a long way down.

If you consider where you are in life, the substantial gifts you have to give, and how badly you and I are needed today, it’s hard, for me at least, to justify not throwing myself into ways to continue to work. As well as play. That’s what makes the work even more fun.

When I get there, I may well feel like a very young 86-er, but I will still be 86. The endless ocean of time that was available to me at 15 has diminished – but I don’t have to. Neither do you.

Just because we will never be young again doesn’t mean we can’t be youthful, and in that energy, be able to do ever so much more.

What will you do with the time that is given you? Have you started an exciting new project? Are you making waves in brand new ways? What have you learned since you turned 60? Please share with our wonderful community!

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