Am I too old for something new?
I’ve heard this question many times, in various forms: often from people in their 50s, but sometimes younger, and once from someone aged 36. My response is always no: you are not too old for something new!
It’s said by those who work with the dying that people often experience significant transformation, letting go, a new perspective: in their final days, or even hours. It’s never too late. A 90-year-old woman at a weekend workshop I was leading said at the end, “I now know what I’m going to do with the next stage of my life.”
New phases of life are possible for almost everyone, any age. Yet a lot of people ask not, ‘Am I capable of a fresh start?’ but rather, ‘Is it worth starting something at my age?’ They brood on questions such as ‘If I retrain now, will I have enough years’ work left to be worth it financially?’
Yet I have found that people don’t usually want to retire from work they truly love. In fact, they often hope to do it for as long as they can. If you undertake significant study during your 60s, you may have decades of fulfilling work ahead.
However, the soul isn't interested in how many years you will have to do this work, or how much you've got in your pension pot! Your deepest inner wisdom knows when it's time to unfurl a new pair of leaves, or a flower, or maybe some seeds. Perhaps all you need to do is let whatever is trying to come through, come through; to create nourishing conditions to support this new phase of growth.
Another common concern is: ‘I don’t want to waste all those years in my current field.’ You might fear wasting money, or wasting the skills and knowledge you've gained through your career. However, those gifts won’t simply evaporate. They will actively inform whatever work you do next... or, they will fall away from visibility, to create rich compost around your new seed. Or both.
At a deeper level, sometimes there is a fundamental need to let go of the old before the new can emerge. It can feel as if a part of you that you're ready to outgrow has to die. Letting go is indeed a form of psycho-spiritual death, and needs support, courage and readiness. (In this case, readiness isn’t an achievement, more a feeling of necessity.)
Because what's asked of us is often something we're really reluctant to let go. Perhaps it feels like the core of your identity. It may be what gives you a sense of status in the world. You might cling to this part of you, reasoning, 'Why would I want to let go of this, of all things?'
Yet your soul knows just what you need, to grow into whatever is calling, or whispering, to you. You hold your own deepest wisdom about your unique gift to the world, what would make you feel most complete.
Perhaps, rather than ‘Am I too old?’ we might ask: ‘What is calling me?’ – no matter how many our years.