Experience has taught me to understand and overcome my emotions, not just to be led by them. When we are younger, we do and experience things in order to learn about ourselves and who we are. Once we mature, we do and experience things because of who we are.
Last year, 2 days before my 40th birthday, I did a bungy jump. Twenty years previously I had done 6 bungy jumps while living and working in New Zealand. I clearly remember the thrill and exhilaration I felt at each jump, and was looking forward to re-living the experience once more.
When I reached the top of the platform, was harnessed up and shuffled forward to the edge for my jump, I was shocked to realise that I was scared. Not just a little scared, but genuinely struck by the enormity of what I was about to do – the fact that I was jumping into nothingness and that I was VERY high up indeed. This wasn’t something I remembered feeling twenty years ago.
Realising that fear can be crippling and could stop me from re-living the thrill and rush that I know comes with a bungy jump, I consciously pushed those thoughts away and hurriedly counted down and flung myself off the platform.
Yes, I did feel the thrill and the rush once more, but on reaching the bottom and the boat where my harness was untied, I did not feel the urge to run straight back up and jump, as I had when I was 19 years old.
As a 19 year old, bungy jumping was simply about the incredible feeling of freedom gained from jumping into an expanse of space. As a 39 year old, I was aware of the height I was jumping from, the ropes that were attached to me, the staff checking everything and friends and family watching from below. Even in those brief moments on the top of the tower before my jump, I considered others’ reactions to and thoughts about my jump. Not in a sense of being concerned or worried about others, but simple awareness of more than just myself.
I think that this awareness is something that grows in us with age, and is something to embrace that will enrich our experiences. As a 19 year old, had I felt afraid at the top of the bungy platform, perhaps I wouldn’t have jumped. But today, I know I can ‘feel the fear and do it anyway.’
I still get just as excited about things now as I did when I was younger. Life has not become duller but instead has grown richer.
It’s like tasting a fine wine. It tastes good to just sip and swallow, but if you let it roll around your mouth, over all of your tastebuds, you experience more depth and flavour. I believe that as we get older, we learn to use all of our senses to greater effect and so gain even more from our experiences.
As a Thriving Cougar, I live life in the moment, soaking up all the experiences life has to offer. In my experience, as you mature, the world becomes a richer and even more exciting place to explore.
Don’t just live life, experience it!
Have you ever done the same activity at different times in your life and experienced differing emotions and feelings due to age and experience?
By Jill Shepherd