“I’m not throwing away my shot!” —Lin-Manuel Miranda
My favorite line from the musical “Hamilton” is from the song “My Shot”: “I’m just like my country / I’m young, scrappy and hungry / And I’m not throwing away my shot!”
Alexander Hamilton did throw away his shot. At age 49, he accepted Aaron Burr’s challenge to a duel and lost his life.
What if you’re no longer scrappy and hungry? Let’s say you didn’t throw away your shot back then, and now you’re an octogenarian with a relatively good, successful record in your rear-view mirror and your mind still functions fairly well most of the time. Do you still have a shot to throw?
I contend you do.
Nonagenarian Irishman George Bernard Shaw died at 94, not of old age or disease. He fell off a ladder while pruning trees and died from complications. He had written, “I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no brief candle for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”
Pierre-Auguste Renoir led the Impressionism school of art. Severely disabled by rheumatoid arthritis the last 20 years of his life, he continued painting. With gnarled hands, fingers grotesquely twisted, he had to change techniques. He could still hold a brush, but an assistant had to place it in his hand. Of his deformity, he commented, “The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”
Don’t throw away your shot just because you’re old. Experienced, mellow and wise, now’s the time to bequeath life-lessons, priceless treasures, maybe preserved in a journal, for progeny.