Why Do We Stop?

I have a dear friend that is dying of cancer. He is still with us but I don’t believe that he has much time left on this earth. We have been talking on the phone frequently and one time he shared with me two things. ONE – He stopped having sex 6 months ago and TWO – He was still chain smoking. I found the topic fascinating and it really made me wonder, when do we stop doing the things we enjoy?

My grandmother died when she was 107 years old. Some time before she turned 100, she stopped playing bridge. She said that it made her think too hard for someone her age. She loved playing bridge and it puzzles me to this day.

I have another dear friend (still in the living) that was an avid golfer. Around the time that he turned 60, he stopped. That was 5 years ago, and he has not played since.

This got me thinking about my life and also “Why do we stop doing the things we love?”. Is stopping a sign that your life is running out of energy for certain pursuits? Or is it the opposite? Are you saving energy as you grow older by giving up these pursuits? I have no idea.

I love to run. It is a passion for me, almost an addiction. The reason is because it makes me feel good. About 15 minutes into the run, the endorphins kick in and the rest of the run is like a beautiful dream. I am relaxed. I am in harmony with my body and nature. I am mostly just lost in my thoughts. Those thoughts quite often will drive my direction for the day or more. I know that running is also a physically demanding pursuit and I wonder, will there be a time when I must stop. How will I know when I should stop? Either way, I know that my life will not be the same if I don’t run.

I also love to read. It is like tickling my brain or scratching an itch. It is a different feeling than running but it is relaxing and helps me sleep at night. I imagine that I will continue to read until the very end. It is not physically demanding, only mentally. But who knows? Not I.

I also play guitar. It is a peaceful pursuit and personally rewarding. I have been playing for over 30 years and honestly, I am only so-so. There are probably millions of guitar players better than me. It is rewarding when you feel like you have improved a little iota. It is rewarding to figure out a song that you never could touch before. Just to get a little better each time you play. I guess one day I will stop when I feel that I can no longer improve any more. There is so much room for improvement but I have reached a point where my lack of talent will not allow me to improve any more. I hope it doesn’t happen any time soon. Sometimes, it just makes me happy.

So I am just wondering out loud. What makes us stop? I used to drink beer every day and at one time in my left I was addicted to nicotine and cigarettes. These are two things that I have stopped because I knew they were unsustainable activities. They were doing more harm than good. But then, why do we stop doing the things that are good for us? The things that keep us challenged or motivated? What do we stop? I really don’t know. Leave a comment below.

3 thoughts on “Why Do We Stop?

  1. IMO our mutual friend stopped doing the wrong thing…

    I think people “stop” for as many varied reasons as they start: it is personal to the emotional and psychiatric makeup of the individual, their vulnerability to the people/events that impact their lives.

    Let’s hope our buddy finds peace in his final days

  2. Hi Rob, I have been thinking about your post all day, and pondering how my Mom gave up reading when she couldn’t see or concentrate well enough (I brought her books on tape, but she preferred when I read to her), and how she would give up and start again and give up doing crosswords as she failed. I also thought about how I get so tired on startups that I stop reading or exercising because I get so mentally and physically tired that I just can’t make myself do it. I think that’s the key: we give it up when it’s just more effort than the pleasure we expect to derive from it, even if it’s something that gives us energy or pleasure back. This week is my first week home from a very demanding startup, and I am even having trouble finding the energy for my passion, sailing. I am recovering though, just in time to sail all next weekend!

  3. Interesting post, Rob. I think you’re referring to my husband about the golf. I wondered why he quit, too. When I asked him, he says his body was beginning to suffer (arthritis in his shoulder/neck) and that it took up so much time he didn’t have time to do some other things that make him happy. I asked him why he didn’t just cut back on the golf (he used to play a couple times a week and hit the practice range 5X/week. He said he can’t do it casually – it’s no fun when he isn’t going after it at full tilt. He loathes the idea of mediocrity in this game that he played for 40 years. But, he has taken up other things with a similar passion, and now at almost 66, he’s actively pursuing his new interests (photography, videography and motorcycling). As for me personally, I can’t imagine ever not reading, unless I were blind. And I don’t want to retire – I’m enjoying my work. I admire your commitment to running – it’s such a healthy pursuit and it obviously brings you great pleasure.

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