[Mental Health—that which promotes the optimization of mind, body, soul, and interpersonal relationships]
So, what’s on your opsimathic bucket list?
I first learned the word opsimath about a month or so ago from an interview on a national news program. Then, only a few weeks later, I heard it again on Way with Words, the NPR-sponsored gift to word lovers, this time in reference to one’s bucket list. Interpreting the two incidences of a never-before-encountered word in a short space of time as synchronistic, I decided to take it seriously and asked myself, So, what’s on my opsimathic bucket list? What have I always wanted to learn but kept putting off until I had the time? What skill do I regret never having developed?
An opsimath is someone who learns something new late in life, or develops a new talent (or develops an old talent anew) after retirement, or is a committed lifelong learner. The Way with Words reference was in the form of a challenge to go back to school, learn that new language, join a seniors’ yoga class, or pick up that old guitar resting in the back of the closet, unstrummed for the past thirty-five years.
To encounter someone exercising his or her opsimathic opportunities is a delight. I think of George W. Bush picking up a paint brush and easel after leaving the Oval Office after his eight year tenure. Or Ruth Bader Ginsburg, at 84 the oldest member of the Supreme Court, with no plans to retire. Or a woman I recently read about who just entered medical school at Ohio State in her sixties; “I always wanted to be a doctor,” she explained, as if her decision were no more unusual than that of trading in her Honda for a Mazda Miata. Or Bruce Morrow, aka “Cousin Brucie,” who spun the Golden Oldies for me when I was sixteen, my cell phone-size transistor radio serving as the medium for the greatest rock music of all time, and who’s still playing the oldies at the age of eighty-one—eighty-one!—to my continuing delight (he’s now on Sirius Satellite, channel 5, which, of course, didn’t exist in the ’60s, when I was tuned in to him on WABC AM in New York City).
Now that’s opsimathic living!
So, what’s on your opsimathic bucket list? Getting that master’s degree you always wanted? Learning the piano? Mastering Spanish? Becoming a National Parks volunteer guide? Joining an over-60s quidditch team? (OK, just having a little fun with that last one.)
Life is too short to squander old age. Get those opsimathic juices flowing. Just do it.
Mike Brock, PsyD, LPC, is a counselor and life coach in Dallas. In his spare time, he wonders what’s next on his opsimathic bucket list.