Over the past few months I've been inspired by a couple of people who do what they love with energy and passion, and I just wanted to share a bit of it.
The first is a cantor at a church we attend from time to time. He's an older man - I guessed in his 60's - and sings with a strong voice and always a very dramatic sweep of the arm to encourage the congregation to join in. My husband and I theorized that he was a high school band or choir teacher, and the other day were a bit surprised when he came down after Mass and thanked us for singing loud and with our mouths open (you know, so the sound actually comes out). The following week, we talked with the cantor of the Mass we normally attend, a young, German opera student, and found out a little more information about the other gentleman. The first shocker was that he is 83 years old. I'd be happy to still be able to walk unassisted when I'm 83, let alone fill a 200 seat chapel with a rich, strong voice. The second shocker is that, while this man is in fact, a teacher, it isn't at the high school. He trains young opera singers (like our other cantor) in their craft. It turns out that he has been a professional opera singer for much of his life, singing with the likes of Maria Callas, and even performing at the Met - something even bigwig opera stars look forward to. In his case, it was a 1949 performance of "Elektra", in which he played the role of "Servant". I know next to nothing about opera, but I know that you have to be at least decent to get on stage at the Met. His student described him as a "stage animal", someone who simply has to be on stage performing to be happy, and I am just so impressed that he has kept himself happy, healthy and doing what he loves, even if it only means singing at an obscure little church in a remote corner of western Germany.
The second is a man who took up scuba about 30 years ago, and in the intervening decades has spearheaded efforts to set up Marine Protected Areas in Canada, promoted marine conservation (no one on the east coast could question the need), made thousands of dives in BC's cold winter waters, and recently published a book with nearly 1700 of his underwater photographs. The book was a surprise hit, and he and it's co-author have been busy with a book tour that is geared not so much to selling the book as it is to promoting the preservation cause, and at the same time are working on another book together, and he's working on a third on his own. This man is 72, still dives multiple times a year - usually in winter - and has basically created a whole new career for himself since he retired from the career he did for over 50 years. When he goes down to the beach and finds something unexpected, it's like being with a child, he's so full of enthusiasm and wonder. Since he's my dad, I'm praying that it's genetic!
The third is the co-author of the book. A scientist by training and profession for most of his life, when he was over 60, he and his wife had the guts to sell their house and pursue their long-term goal of owning and operating a dive resort in the Gulf Islands. They risked everything to do so, but it's up and running now and they are living their dream.
The most amazing thing to me about all of these people is that they worked at (relatively) normal jobs for most of their lives, making sacrifices and honouring their commitments to society and the people around them, but they didn't give up or let age or security, apathy or inertia prevent them from taking risks and realizing their dreams.
It's easy to live your dreams when you're young, single and unattached, but wow! Kudos to those who continue to do so throughout a long and productive life.