The word "enthusiasm" comes from the Greek, enthousiasmos—to be possessed—en theos, "in God." What are you enthusiastic or "in God" about?
Think of the new elders you know who have real enthusiasm about what they do. Think of those folks who are so passionate and committed to their vocation that you can hardly picture them doing anything else. What core characteristics do these new elders have in common?
Now get a copy of today's paper—or even better, the most recent Sunday paper. Review every single page: the news, editorials, features, sports, business, comics, society, entertainment, world and local events, want ads, even the obituaries. What things grab your attention? What themes or issues do you naturally migrate to? Highlight three things that really move you, about which you feel "Someone really needs to do something."
What most excites you in or about the world? What most angers you? What do you care about most deeply? If you could teach three things to others, what would you teach? Who would you teach it to?
"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm," wrote Emerson. A deep enthusiasm, especially for something undertaken with vitality and verve, is how even "unremarkable" people can achieve something remarkable. Enthusiasm is probably the one most common feature among the new elders we have interviewed for this book.
Enthusiasm is the active component of our life's passions. Passion is the fuel of which enthusiasm is the flame. Our passions are what keep the fire burning in the second half of life.
Renewing our calling, and so, reigniting our passions, enables us to spark our own enthusiasm and, just as importantly, the enthusiasm of young people. The actual stories we tell may be forgotten, but our living passion is an inspiring power.
Passion is inextricably linked to vital aging. New elders with a real zest for the second half of life draw upon their passions to keep them going while contemporaries are slumbering. They are passionately growing whole, not old.