Do you remember the Back to the Future movies? Michael J. Fox starred in the three blockbuster films in the 1980s. As we plan the second half of our life, this title has major implications.
Sometimes we tend to plan our future by looking only at what we have experienced in the past. If we had trouble learning French in high school, it is too late to learn French now. If we have not had a lot of experience dancing, it is probably too late to take tango lessons. Using our past limitations to modify our dreams for the future restricts the possibilities we have to create a future filled with wonder and amazement.
Sometimes we even borrow limitations from our extended family. Since Dad, Mom and our aunts and uncles all developed memory problems, it’s only a matter of time before we will begin to forget things. (We don’t remember that we probably misplaced our car keys when we were thirty years old.) “People don’t understand the extent to which brain health is under their control. They believe they are stuck with their inherited brain endowment. We have the ability at any point in life to do the right things to maintain brain fitness and keep our memories.” Dr. Michael Merzenich, retired Neurophysiologist at the University of California, San Francisco. As mentioned in my book, Keep Your Fork, Dessert Is On The Way, some of the right things are laugh more, maintain your sense of curiosity and renew your sense of purpose.
If all the female relatives in our family had breast cancer, we may think that it is only a manner of time before we will have to face that diagnosis. That idea is outdated and not based on current facts. (However, it is wise for your doctor to know your family history.) My oldest sister died in 1999 after several years of treatment for breast cancer. I received the same diagnosis a year later and am now doing well. My other sister has never had the diagnosis.
We need to question every thing we have ever learned about what to expect as we get older. There is just too much new thought and research to limit our lives to old myths that have existed for years. As Bruce Lipton, PhD, author of the ground-breaking book, Biology of Belief urges us to “become a master of your life rather than a victim of your heredity.”
There is a joke about a husband asking his wife why she always cut the ham in half before she put it in the oven. She said that was the way to do it because her mother had always done it that way. The next time his mother in law came to visit, the husband asked about the reason for cutting the ham before it was put in the oven. The mother in law said that she always cut the ham in half because her oven was so small there wasn’t room for a whole one.
Our present may hold more potential than we can imagine. Our past years can provide us with the courage and wisdom to see the present and future differently. We may get to the place that Mae West did when she said, “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.”