What happens after you face the most surprising, mind-blowing, and rewarding experience ever—skydiving?
You wonder what’s next.
What happens when you experience it at 50?
You wonder why you waited so long. And you realize your inner childlike spirit is still youthful, vibrant, and eager to play. At least, that’s what happened to me.
Welcoming the Big 5-0
When I was young, I thought people were old at 40. I mean, that’s when the black balloons were delivered, right? Now that I’m 50, I feel like I’m just getting started.
Isn’t it funny how we couldn’t wait to be a teenager, then 18, then 21? But something changed around age 30 and we stopped getting excited about the next milestone birthdays. For some, those big dates arrive with dread. But they don’t have to. What if we instead embraced aging and the joy, wisdom, and fun that come with it? Yes, fun.
With my 50th birthday approaching, I decided to welcome this next season of life with a personal challenge. Skydiving was something I’d wanted to do for a long time but kept putting it off for someday. I couldn’t stop thinking about it nor could I justify waiting any longer. What better way to celebrate than to finally fulfill that yearning?
Engaging the Childlike Spirit
The lessons I learned from skydiving were numerous, but one really surprised me. Harvey Mackay said, “A student of life considers the world a classroom.” I found the open air between the ground and 14,000 feet to be the ultimate classroom. There I realized the inner spirit is an ageless, enthusiastic student.
When the big day arrived, I placed my trust in a skilled instructor, secure harness, piece of fabric, and a lot of thin parachute cords. We boarded the plane and ascended skyward. The moment my instructor and I jumped into the chilly air, the serious, in-control adult fell away and my inner childlike spirit let loose with wild exuberance.
Though we were plummeting to earth at 120 miles per hour during freefall, the pressure of the air against me gave the sensation of flying. Under the parachute, I soaked in the views of the area below, the deep blue of the sky, and that amazing, indescribable horizon. I observed, sensed, and experienced the wonder of this beautiful world as I never had before.
When we landed safely at the drop zone, a strip of grass next to the tarmac, I found it impossible to stop smiling. There I was, 50 years old with the goofiest grin on my face. My childlike spirit was fully alive.
Class was only in session for five adrenaline-filled minutes but the impact of my education that day will last a lifetime.
Reconsider Age and Play
Wayne Dyer said, “To be more childlike, you don’t have to give up being an adult. The fully integrated person is capable of being both an adult and a child simultaneously. Recapture the childlike feelings of wide-eyed excitement, spontaneous appreciation, cutting loose, and being full of awe and wonder at this magnificent universe.”
With the weight of adult responsibilities like work, caring for family, caring for elderly parents, household chores, and paying bills we neglect to make time for fun. We talk ourselves out of incredible experiences and opportunities because we think we’re too old. I’m certainly guilty of this myself.
But being an adult doesn’t mean we can’t lighten up and play sometimes. Remember, age is a blessing. The older we get, the more opportunities we have to engage that childlike essence. Sure, our bodies age daily but the inner spirit continues to learn, experience, and play if we let it.
My challenge to you this week is to find something that brings out the kid in you and go play. I’m not suggesting that you skydive or do anything extreme. Engage in your favorite sport, hang out with the kids, or play with the dog. Savor the fun of the moment. Before you know it, you just might feel like a kid again yourself.
What experiences have you had that brought out your childlike spirit? Share in the comments below.