Ty, the Rambling Artist
The art of making drawing smiles and making connections, anywhere in the world.
Lesson 8: You Are Never Too Old
Somehting that is never lost on me is the realization that my wife and I changed course, jumped off the cliff, switched gears fairly late in the game. I know that friends of ours thought we had lost our minds. Many of them were settled into careers with a vast field of stability laid out for them well into retirement. Our decision to do this never struck me as odd because of our age. Something I’ve known for most of my life is that it’s never too late to do something new or to find your passions. Yes, we’re here for a limited time but the expectations of where we should be at any given point in our lives is merely a product of society that thrives on “norms”. When you’re working at Walt Disney World, a lot of people tell you their dreams. A very common one goes something like this: “Someday, when I retire I want to move her and be a Disney bus driver!” I never knew that there were that many people who wanted to drive buses at the most magical place on earth until we moved here. And make no mistake, we have many many bus drivers who did exactly that. They retired and had the opportunity to start a “second career” They moved to Florida and now transport guests all over Walt Disney World. But if that is really your dream, is there anyway that you can make it happen sooner? What if you never get the opportunity for that second career? I suspect for some, that would be okay. Being a Disney bus driver is not as big of a dream as they sometimes feel when vacationing here. But for others, they’re quite serious. What if they never get that chance? What is making you put off your dreams? Is there anyway you can overcome those thoughts that are stopping you? Your never too old to find your passion but eventually we all run out of time. What is stopping you from doing it now, or at least sooner?
One of my favorite stories from the easel was that of Herb and Irma. Herb and Irma were vacationing at Walt Disney World and, like so many others, they were doing it to celebrate something very special - their 45th wedding anniversary. Herb and Irma were both in their late 60’s and as vibrant and fun as any 30-year-old I’ve ever met. They had met in school and had gotten married in their early 20s. They had lived a typical suburban lifestyle, raised two kids, of whom they were quite proud and had ended up becoming exactly the empty-nesters that the world expected them to be. They spent a few years traveling and enjoying the extra income that comes from not having kids at home but they could never quite get past the feeling that they needed something more to occupy the whole that had been left by their kids moving out. And so they decided to volunteer. Giving time to other people was surely going to be more fulfilling than what they had been doing. Their passion was an had always been young people. When their own kids had been young it was their house that had served as the respite for their friends who needed to get away from their own circumstances for a while. It was their house that always had the good snacks and the parents willing to accept anyone. Everyone was welcome in their home and once everyone had moved on to college and lives of their own, Herb and Irma felt a little lost. So when they started looking for opportunities to fill their hearts and their days, it didn’t take long for them to find the organizations that help to take care of kids with challenges and they jumped in with both feet. As they started working more and more with many of these young people, they learned something that was very sad. While we like to think that kids who have severe health and/or physical challenges are always well loved and cared for by their parents, who learn to cope with the situation, the truth is that many times, parents can not handle the toll that these kind of circumstances put on them. Kids with these intense special needs are all too often abandoned in hospitals and homes and become reliant on the state for their care. Herb and Irma started spending their time going into these places and taking care of these kids who had been abandoned - in many cases to live their shortened lives being cared for by strangers. As they grew attached to these young people, this began to bother them more and more - the idea that these children did not have homes or parents or any of the protective environment that their own children had grown up taking for granted. And so, instead of just thinking about it, they decided to do something about it. Herb and Irma begin to adopt some of these kids, kids who in many cases had not much time left on this earth, just so that their last remaining weeks, months or occasionally years could be lived in a real home, with parents who loved them and cared for them. Every year, Herb and Irma brought their family (however it looked at the time) to Disney World. About this time, a young woman, Herb and Irma’s biological daughter Janna, I learned walked up pushing the chair of a young man who looked to be about 12. He was in a wheelchair and could barely move and could not speak. His condition caused his heart to stop so often that their was an Automated External Defibrolater attached to the back of his chair and I learned from Herb and Irma that they had sometimes had to use it more than once a day. But when they brought him to Walt Disney World, something truly magical happened. He relaxed, he occasionally smiled and not once, while on property, had they ever had to use the AED to restart his heart - and they would stay for weeks at a time. Disney had truly become a magical place for them and their family. Sometimes dreams do come true. I had to finish their anniversary caricature with tears in my eyes. And as I thought back on this extraordinary couple later I thought about how much of their impact on the lives of these kids meant and how, if they had gone with the “norms” of being empty-nesters, these miracles would not have happened. They pursued the desires of their hearts and, as a result, gave peace and happiness to some who might have never known it otherwise. You are never too old to start something new. You are never too old to pursue your dreams but you also should do it as quickly as possible. You never know how the impact of you doing exactly what you were meant to do will change the world.
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From Ty Walls:
After four decades drawing smiles I often encounter remarkable people. I've learned to create little special moments for people from all around the world with my simple smile-drawing skills. But sometimes, life creates little magical moments for me. This blog is my attempt to share them with you.