It can be a hobby, an advocacy, a sport or even your chosen career.
After President Cory Aquino completed her six-year term in the ’90s, she decided to take up painting as a hobby. And she immersed herself in it.
According to her art teacher, she became a prolific painter, making close to 300 art pieces during the rest of her years. Despite this prodigious output from her newfound talent, she chose to only give away her paintings, gifting relatives, special friends, former colleagues in government and supporters, or donating pieces for fund-raising events.
To this day, these “gifts of self” are lovingly treasured by the appreciative recipients.
It is said that painting was Cory’s form of relaxation, but it has also been said that her hobby became her unique form of self-expression and passion in her later years.
When Francis Kong shifted careers years ago and started out as business consultant and trainer, he told me that he enjoyed his new work so much that he initially refused to accept payment from his first clients, and this lasted for quite some time.
Since then, Mr. Kong has become the country’s icon for values-based leadership training and motivation. His widely acclaimed seminars and business consulting engagements have benefited numerous, widely varied organizations and their people, locally and abroad.
On top of this, he hosts a daily radio program and writes a column twice a week for a major daily. And to cap everything, through the years he has written 19 books (some of these have become required or recommended reading in schools), sharing his learnings and incisive insights on topics related to his work and various aspects of life.
For this indefatigable “young” senior, his chosen life’s work has become his passion.
Perri Cebedo, a former schoolmate of mine at the Ateneo, is pushing 80 and lives in the United States. But he finds the energy to come to the Philippines several times a year to give a seminar he has developed to help ordinary students in any academic level become top-notch A+ students.
His intense advocacy stems from his love of teaching (he was a school teacher) and his experience as long-time corporate trainer for a large multinational firm in the United States.
He freely shares his unique seminar called MAP (Maximizing Academic Performance), which has benefited both teachers and students in large universities and small provincial schools in the country.
The proceeds from all of Cebedo’s efforts go to a local scholarship fund. For this energetic, altruistic octogenarian, his teaching advocacy is his passion.
A few days ago, I read a newspaper article about a 67-year-old retired Canadian teacher, John Wragg, who had just completed the first full-distance Philippine Ironman triathlon event (2.86 km swimming, 180.25 km cycling and 42.95 km running). This is quite an amazing accomplishment since many younger triathletes cannot even finish the whole course.
But what’s most amazing is that this soon-to-be septuagenarian had competed in more than 220 full triathlon races before he joined the recent Philippine event!
It would be an understatement to say that Mr. Wragg’s chosen sport is his life’s passion.
These stories are, of course, the more dramatic examples of seniors who have discovered satisfying pursuits in which they have chosen to immerse themselves.
But let’s face it. While some of us seniors can still run marathons, others are already wheelchair-bound; while others are still mentally sharp, others are already experiencing forgetfulness and confusion; and while some are just into vitamins and supplements, others are already deep into maintenance meds.
But wherever we are in this wide spectrum, we can still do more than just retreat into a dark corner and wait for the inevitable.
No matter our personal limitations, we can still discover an activity—gently physical or moderately mental or calmly creative or satisfyingly service-oriented or just plainly social (regular or unique activities with family, friends, organizations)—which can capture and sustain our interest. We can do it!
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish’d, not to shine in use!—Alfred Tennyson (from “Ulysses”)