I was lucky enough to spend some of the holidays this year in sunny Palm Springs. We welcomed in the New Year in the desert with visits from both family and friends. It was a great way to set the tone and intention for 2013.
While in the desert we snagged some tickets to the Palm Springs Follies. If you have ever been to Palm Springs you have probably seen this show. It has been running for twenty-two seasons and is a revue-type show featuring beautiful women and handsome men, all singing and dancing in the Ziegfeld style. There is only one little difference–no one in the show is under fifty years of age.
Now, having been an actor, I love the theatre and watching any live performance is always a treat for me. But there was something very special about watching these performers singing, tapping, and generally strutting their stuff that was truly inspiring. Several of the women are in their fifties and sixties, while one of them is seventy-seven. The oldest cast member is a song and dance man who recently celebrated his eightieth birthday. The show runs for about three hours with one production number after another. I can tell you from experience that keeping the energy filling a stage for that length of time is no easy feat. And no, there is not a single walker on the stage.
Aside from providing a great evening of unique entertainment, the show got me thinking about self-imposed limitations. I have heard so many people say they would love to do something, but well, they are over fifty (or sixty, or…), and it isn’t likely to happen. It’s as if hitting a certain age precludes anyone from following a dream. I know people who would love to start a new career, but they feel that at their age they should just hang in until retirement. My answer to that is usually–Really? Why should a number stop you from doing something you want to do? In today’s world where the average life span continues to increase it seems almost self-destructive to allow something as benign as a number to limit your possibilities.
Age is not the only limitation we place on ourselves, but it is one of the most convenient. If we say we are too old to do something, then we can excuse ourselves from even trying, thus saving us from the possibility of failure. I know people who would love to take ballroom dance lessons after years of watching Dancing With the Stars but well, they are too old. Again I say–Really? No one said you had to enter a competition, but if you want to learn to dance, age shouldn’t keep you from your first Foxtrot.
My partner was a professional dancer in his twenties. A couple of decades (more or less) later, he knows that a grand jete may not be in his wheelhouse anymore, but it doesn’t stop him from taking a class when he feels the need. He may not do it all the time, but I am always glad when he decides to hit the floor because it is something he loves and he doesn’t let a number keep him from one of his passions.
We all put up our own limitations in one way or another. Many times we do it because it maintains the status quo. A friend of mine would love to change jobs, but she has only known one industry in her life and doesn’t feel her experience would outweigh any learning curve if she changed fields. So she stays where she is. Not particularly happy, but she knows what to expect. Self-imposed limitations keep her in an unpleasant situation and prevent her from seeking out new and challenging experiences. It’s sad, but not that unusual.
A second thought came to mind during the show. Why are these performers still working at their ages? The answer is pretty simple–they love what they do. They have spent a lifetime pursuing their dreams and it shows. At an age where many people are considering which assisted living facility to move to, these people are thinking about kick-lines and time-steps. When you love what you do, it is easy to keep doing it. In fact, it is usually easier to keep doing it than to stop doing it. And they don’t let something as trivial as age keep them from doing what they love.
The Palm Springs Follies was an inspiring show and a great choice for starting out the New Year. Coming out of the theatre I decided that one of my intentions for 2013 would be to challenge my own self-imposed limitations when I see them. I won’t let the fact that my fiftieth birthday has already passed keep me from new adventures. I will demand an explanation from myself when I hear the words “can’t” or “won’t work” in my own inner dialogues. Is the limitation valid or am I simply making it up? I’m pretty sure I know what the answer will usually be.
How about you? What limitations keep you from pursuing your dreams? Have you ever questioned those ideas and beliefs? If you do, you may find that many of those limitation are self-imposed roadblocks that keep us from moving forward toward fulfillment and happiness. Next time you hear yourself say you can’t do something–ask yourself why. Then ask yourself what would happen if you didn’t accept that limitation.
You may be surprised at the possibilities that present themselves when you remove your own roadblocks.