I’m now 65 and I have realized that over the past 20 years I have started to take less risks. I am starting to feel boring. I do NOT want to join a retirement community or start wearing socks with my sandals. I feel that my nads have started to shrink. I just don’t have them like I used to. It’s not that I am afraid to take risks, fun risks, not stupid risks; I’m just less excited by them. This lead me on to an internet search of why older people tend to take less risks than younger people. It is due to a substance in our brain called dopamine. For every 10 years that we age, we lose X % of dopamine, the substance that causes us to be excited by risk taking. It is known as the pleasure hormone. When we work out or do a cardio workout we experience higher levels of dopamine, especially if we work out hard enough to enter the “zone”.
As we get older, one would think that due to having fewer years in front of us than behind us, one would be more prone to increase risk. What do we have to lose? When I was younger and had less dough, I wouldn’t think twice of buying an old house just to flip it or buy a used car that I had always wanted only to sell it 2 months later. Now, even though I can afford it, the idea hasn’t even crossed my mind. This realization today was a major downer. At first I chastised myself for this lack of chutzpah, but after doing a little research I realize that it is due to this unfair waning of the hormone dopamine.
I’ve also noticed this among my peers. A couple of months ago my wife gave me a birthday present that allowed me to race super cars around a formula 1 style raceway. I gave it all I could give. I only got up to 140 mph, but it was a blast. I shared this with my friends who are my age and they looked at me like I was crazy. I then accused them of not having any balls, but today realized that I have also declined in risk taking activities as well. I don’t like it in my friends and I don’t like it in myself. At first I thought that it was just clinging to life that made me and my friends act like scaredy cats, but it’s not that. It’s dopamine leaking out of us all so slowly that we are like the proverbial frog being slowly boiled in a pot of water, yet never noticing it.
I would wager that most people don’t mind the slow acceptance of the safe life, but for people like myself that have learned to fly, buy and sell homes at the drop of a hat, learn to do pairs figure skating at the age of 45, quit a successful job and start up a new business, create my own rocket fuel and fly rockets, playing it safe doesn’t suit me. I detest it. I just didn’t notice that I was becoming that proverbial frog.
With all of this being said, as of January 1, I will begin to make a radical change. I will chronicle it as often as I can. I will “rage, rage against the dying of the light”.