Written by Bob Kleinfelder, Birches Assisted Living resident and senior editor emeritus of The Lions Club’s LION Magazine
“What, me do that? I couldn’t do that if my life depended on it.” “I’m too old to try something new.” “Aw, come on, that’s way beyond my ability, way beyond.” “Not interested, never have been.”
Sound familiar? You’ve probably said it yourself, or heard someone else say it. I’d wager many, if not most of us, have uttered it when asked or challenged to attempt a new task or activity.
Well, there’s an old saying that goes, “The person who says it can’t be done is often interrupted by the person doing it.” In our personal lives, we may have complained we’re not able to attempt a new task, be it physical or creative, because we‘re certain that we’re unable to do it, or perhaps we simply didn’t care to try. Of course, there are things we know we cannot do, like lifting a 250 pound weight, playing middle linebacker or joining Mensa.
But trying something new needn’t involve the extremes. Lesser feats will suffice, because becoming involved in something new gives us self-confidence and expands our horizons, world of knowledge and social intercourse. Here, at The Birches, we are challenged to attempt tasks we never before considered doing or even heard of. For example, some of us, including yours truly, didn’t know what the game Rummikub was. Now there are 8-10 of us who join together once a week, play the game and have a great time. Something new: We tried it and liked it!
It really doesn’t matter if you’re in assisted living or still at home, trying something new refreshes your mind and your outlook on life in general. So you never tried painting before or learned to swim, or went on a hike in the woods. So what! Give it a try; you just may surprise yourself, in these or in any number of activities you were hesitant to give a shot.
Personally, I disliked to dance. The worst course I ever had to take was a semester of dancing in grammar school. Many of us guys gallantly resisted, but as per-usual, our moms prevailed. After I got married to my beautiful wife, Angie, I still didn’t know (or care to) the two-step from the goose-step. Angie proclaimed for all to hear, that in her next life she would marry a man who could dance. Upon arriving at The Birches, I joined a “dancing” class, actually an activity devoted to movement, which we seniors definitely need to practice. So there I was on the floor dancing, or at least moving. If Angie could see me “dancing” with our attractive blonde leader, she would come after me with a noose.
Anyway, my point is to take every opportunity to try something new, anything, within reason. It’s good for your health, your brain, your self-confidence and your outlook on life. Perhaps enroll at a local community college for a course you never before considered, such as a cooking class and learn how to prepare some exotic cuisine. My idea of cooking one up was to dish out some Spam and baked beans.
There’s a certain joy and sense of accomplishment in trying something new with even borderline success. So your painting didn’t quite resemble Rembrandt, or you only hit the headpin twice in bowling or your attempt at poetry wasn’t up there with, say, Keats or Browning. But you gave it a shot, and that’s what counts. That, my friends, is all that really matters when you attempt new project. Do your best—always your best—and you cannot fail.
Many of us here at The Birches had mild to severe physical limitations upon arrival. But through the exercises and therapy offered here, much of which we had never before attempted, we have been able to overcome these conditions to one extent or another. This is the key to better physical and mental health. Nobody gets better by sitting around, moping and feeling sorry for oneself. Get up and try something new, try something a bit strenuous; in short, get moving!
It may be a bit uncomfortable at first, but as the weeks go by, you’ll find that you have overcome, or at least minimized, many of your difficulties and feel a whole lot better with a more positive perspective on life. I can certainly attest to that.
Impossible? I think not.
I’m reminded of this challenge when, awhile back, I cracked open a Chinese fortune cookie, one of my primary sources of philosophical reflection. “Every truly great accomplishment is at first impossible.”
Take that and run with it!
“An Insightful Lob by Bob” is a monthly column written by Birches resident Bob Kleinfelder. Each month, Bob will offer an inside perspective on life at The Birches and answer your most pressing questions about assisted living. Stay tuned for more assisted living insights from Bob!