The Best is Yet to Come
The Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations

Have You Had Your Best Jump Yet?

I don't mean to go all Pollyana on you. If you've been hanging out here awhile, you know that although I am fascinated with the many aspects of growing old – both personally and in general – I am deeply aware of what can be the perilous downsides of the passage of time.

But lately, I've been working the positive and following on yesterday's The Best is Yet to Come post, my long-time friend John Brandt emailed a story I cannot resist sharing with you.

Just as different religions have certain myths, rituals and traditions in common – the creation myth, the flood/rebirth narrative, the golden rule, for example - often our well-worn adages and aphorisms dress up the same lessons or meanings in different language.

That way the point is reinforced and if you dismiss them because they sound like cliches, certainly you know by now they bear repeating so frequently because they are true.

John's story is another way of saying the best is yet to come and it's a charmer. It is about Olympic gold medalist skier, Billy Kidd. Here goes.

In 1970 after he retired from competitive skiing, Kidd, who is now 71, moved to Steamboat Springs, Colorado where he is still serving as director of skiing at the Steamboat Ski & Resort corporation.

In his early years there, my friend John was organizing an event at the resort during which Kidd would be presented with a skiing award.

As John explains, Kidd became “panicky at the prospect of all those people expecting him to say something grand. He's fine with talking to anyone, as long as both they and he are on skis. But in front of a microphone, he's super chicken in a cowboy hat.”

So John suggested that Kidd tell stories, “which he's good at. He did and the evening was a great success including Billy's anecdotes about how he learned to live with that sense of expectancy you addressed in [Monday's blog post]. This is the story that brought down the house.”

"When my son was about eight years old, we used to go ski jumping every Tuesday evening. The jump in Steamboat Springs stayed open until 9PM. He loved to jump under the lights.

"This one night was memorable because he kept besting his longest jump, probably six or seven times in a row, followed by the requisite victory dance.

“At about 8:45PM, I told him that we had to head for home and dinner. He looked at me and with a determined face that only an eight-year-old can pull off he said, 'But dad, I haven't had my best jump yet.'

"As I stand here before you,” Kidd continued, “it occurs to me to ask, have you had your best jump yet? That's a question I hope I ask myself until the day I retire my cowboy hat for good."

It's also the question John asked me in his email and now I'm asking you.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Elizabeth Galles: First Impressions



What a great question!

No I have not done my best John Belushi backflip or James Brown stage split, but am I numb bummed, waiting for that perfect moment?

That one time TKO?

What I am going to do is continue to work on my individual strengths while poking fun at and challenging what I need to improve on.

There is always room for improvement.

Imagine life without goals.

Even cats have goals.

"I'm going to perfect my fence moonwalk so that snobby little Bengal next door will quit pointing and snickering at me."

We are here, we want to go there.

What do we do? Sit on a curb bawling or get busy?


Small, big.

Doesn't matter.

What matters is knowing we matter, no matter our age.

Early morning so I do not know, yet, if I've had my best jump. If not today, then tomorrow.

I'm bedazzled by Doctafill's comment and have nothing to add. Pure poetry.

Yes, I enjoyed Doctafill's comment too. "Goals. Small, big. Doesn't matter."
I enjoy setting funny little challenges for myself. Like for example: although I have walked several miles a day for many years I've never been good at running because I get asthma. But just for fun, a month ago I measured out a distance of approximately 100 metres along a quiet and level stretch of my route and each day now I try to beat my own time for running it. My record currently stands at 28 seconds. The current world champion in the women’s 75-80 age group can do it in 16 seconds so I’ve a very long way to go, but I think 28 seconds for an asthmatic 78-year-old who hadn’t done any sprinting since high school isn’t too bad. And I haven’t had my best run yet!!

A lot of our recent discussion seems to boil down to maintaining a sense of purpose in our lives. When we are younger, our tasks are thrust in front of us (get a job, keep a job, get promoted, get married, raise the kids, etc.) We aren't called upon to discern our purpose; it's laid out for us.

After retirement, those "automatic" goals are accomplished. So we have to find our own purpose. Fortunately, we are now wise people, and we have time to contemplate how we can best use the time we have left.

I have set several goals of things I want to accomplish. They are pretty small goals in the scheme of life, but worthwhile. I also have a philosophy of how I live, and things I want to do for myself and others.

This gives me my sense of purpose, and makes me feel good about myself. It makes me happy to wake up each day, and gives me a feeling of expectation.

Bella, your comment is filled with excellent advice. Some of my small retirement goals have been reached, but I have a couple of new goals now and feel good about that.

I agree, it's all about setting goals for yourself ... while still being open to the surprises that await you.

For me, waves of creativity come and go. I did some good jumps in the early 1970's, and again in the 80's, After a whole new jump in the 90's, I am heading back into the world riding a new wave. It's all good, even the hiatus's.

Just to be facetious; my best jump happened about 70 years ago if we take the literal interpretation. ;-)

But, Bella's point is well taken and I try to maintain a purpose in life by keeping goals in front of me. I have small goals of what chore I will accomplish each day and bigger goals of major projects I plan to finish.

If I may use another meaning for the metaphor of "best jump" I always think something will occur in the future that will make me happy; perhaps it will even be the happiest day of my life.

Synchronicity or serendipity ? Maybe both. Anyway, just the other day I started punctuating my daily walk, (my stenosis therapy- trying to grow a new artery in my leg) with a 100 yd dash and then today I started doing sprints in my swim routine. Now I just have to figure out what the next, best jump's gonna be.

With any luck, I figure I've got about 15 or 20 years left in me.I would like to think that somewhere in that span of time something great will happen, But as the years wear on, that prospect gets slimmer and slimmer. After all, nothing great happened in the last 69 years so why should the rest be any different. I hate to cast a pall over this joyfest with old age we all seem to have but, for most of us, the best has already happened.

I guess the definition of "best" has something to do with it--also how each of us identifies "something great". I'm pretty much with Bruce in that a lot of my bests (such as marrying the love of my life 36 years ago--on the 3rd try for me and 4th for him) have already happened. That's Vote #2 against a joyfest with old age, I guess.

For me, old age is what it is. Like many others I suspect, I'm doing the best I can to accept it with as much grace as I can muster. (And, yes, I realize how lucky I am to have lived this long and be in relatively good health.) However, it's a balancing act.

That doesn't mean that I won't keep on trying to eat right and get enough exercise, continue to work for as long as I can, volunteer and set reasonable goals for myself, but--keeping it real--as I approach 78 it's hard to envision a life-changing something-great around the corner.

I set three goals in life, at a young age - 5 or 6: learn to fly airplanes, learn to parachute, and go to the moon. I learned to fly in the early-mid 1960s - with my "best jump" occurring on the day when I went on a flight, impromptu, during which I did my first solo aerobatics - 10 consecutive loops!
I learned to parachute in the late 1970s - with my "best jump" being my third actual plummet from a plane. It was the first jump during which I was not terrified!
Does anyone really believe that I shall ever make it to the moon? Not I.
I think that my best jumps are behind me; but, I've never believed in letting "best" cheat me out of enjoying "good".

I'm very much with Elizabeth.."Old age is..what it is!"

I have to get over that feeling of 'I can do anything I decide to try' that follows me from my 30s where I was instrumental in bursting from woman's work to mens work.-at 3 times the pay I made at the woman's work job.
Thinking that way is wonderful but it can, and for me, it HAS lead to...physically ...writing checks my body can't cash.
I'm all for keeping on keeping on but there comes a time when that best jump may truly well be years behind me.
From ells-your Beaverton neighbor

But does it have to be "best"? Do we expect to keep on excelling? I'm happy with thinking "I had a good jump today." Although jump isn't the word, for this discussion it will do. Some days what I did was very good, only rarely "best". Good is often good enough for satisfaction and contentment.

I'm good with "good"

My best jumps always seem to follow my worst falls.

My "best jump" is just trying to have new experiences as often as possible. Last week I just "dropped in" on a church service of a church I knew nothing about. I shop at stores I have not visited before, I read books I would not chose on my own, I sit down by a stranger and get acquainted, I peruse a blog I have never seen before, this year I attended the Jewish Passover Seder, and lately I am into bird watching, providing baths and drinking water for the birds who fly in from who knows where. I also recently bailed somebody I knew from out of jail, a totally new experience for me. I didn't even know where the jail was!! Most of my "new" activities are cheap (except for the occasional new medical adventures)and can be done alone if you chose to go alone.
I figure the "best jump" is simply to keep on jumping as best you can.

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