Have you ever returned to a dream you had at the other end of your life? If you have worked a few decades, are in your retirement years, and there are still uncompleted and unfulfilled, it can be incredibly rewarding to re-engage dreams from the past. You know the ones I am talking about, the ones you had already rationalized as impossible, impractical and as unlikely, and also you did not have the ability, so it was wiser that you did not go down that path. Yeah, those!
Let’s say you had practical parents who were somewhat justifiably frightened that becoming an artist, musician, poet, playwright or any of those soul fulfilling but pocket emptying pursuits would damage your ability to have a reasonable life. So being the dutiful son or daughter you went and had a practical life. It happens all of the time and is far more prevalent than those who went against their families and pursued something improbable.
Right now for a large and growing population, 65 is the new 40 and 9PM is the new midnight. And guess what, this population is not yet ready to hang it up and go quietly into the night, or at least a sizable portion of them is not. And as universities struggle with defining enrollments some of them are attempting to reinvent themselves by offering new programs to nontraditional populations that are either younger or older than typical undergrads. Even some prestigious institutions who have no shortage of applicants to reject are sometimes engaging in out of the box thinking and offering extremely high-level instruction to new nontraditional populations who they subject to rigorous requirements.
If there was a field that attracted you in your youth or anytime along the way to becoming a pragmatic adult, it may not be too late. And returning to earlier dreams can be incredibly rewarding for they may represent unfinished business. Just maybe you can once again go after the one that got away?
As a seventeen-year-old, I had briefly dreamed of becoming a composer and conducting a symphony where not all of the notes were predefined and where improvisation was not only tolerated and accepted but welcome. In other words a bridging of classical music and jazz. In today’s world, there are plenty of examples of crossover artists and ensembles so it is probably too late to be first, but not too late to join in the fun and close the loop from a long time ago.
Even prestigious schools like Harvard, MIT, and Juilliard offer evening coursework not usually, but sometimes leading to a degree. But then again these dreams were not generally about degrees but about doing something you loved and were told you were unreasonably attracted to. Hey not everyone married the love of their life the first time around. For some of us, it took a second try. And the love of a field that attracted you as a younger person can be just as exciting as an adult. In fact, it can even be a kind of forbidden fruit and therefore more exciting even if there may be no one left to tell you not to go for it.
Whether you had a successful career or even a set of careers, there is something to be said about closing the loop, a phrase originated by techies but which has entered more common usage. All I can say is as a student studying composition and orchestration in the evening division of Juilliard, that it is even more thrilling decades later than it would have been when I was seventeen when I took all of my opportunities much more for granted.
Even if you do not have an existential crisis, and are not entirely retired, and actually did enjoy the careers you had and still have, it is never too late to close the loop and add some icing to the cake your life has been. And if your life has not been a cake, well, then you have even more motivation to close the loop!