Nothing is impossible! Why life at 75 is ‘undeniably exciting’
Introducing Retirement Rebel, Graham Short!
One of the best things about my job is the people I meet. Each and every one of them opens my eyes and helps me see the world in a new light.
Of course, many people I work with are stuck in retirement, wandering aimlessly from day to day, not sure which path to take. Then, there are others who’ve decided they’re never going to give up work and those who are moulding out entirely new careers for themselves in their seventies.
Last week I introduced you to Nikki Kenward who, in her late sixties and after trying out the trapeze, decided to retrain in Circus Directing. Her ultimate aim, to encourage people who feel their bodies are ‘past it’ to take to the stage – or simply experience the freedom and joy that movement and dance brings.
Nikki’s drive, passion and commitment to her cause is inspirational and so too is the attitude of a man I met this week, micro-artist, Graham Short.
Hands of genius
Graham is known in the art world as ‘the Hands of Genius’. He produces miniature pieces of art, which sell for hundreds of thousands of pounds and says he’ll keep going for as long as his health allows him too.
“If I thought retirement could be better than this, I’d do it,” he exclaims! “But I love what I do, and my life is undeniably exciting.”
Graham famously engraved The Lord’s Prayer on the head of a 2mm gold pin and is considered to be one of the most talented living micro-artists in the world. An incredible achievement for someone who left school aged 15 with no qualifications.
“I walked through the school gates on the Friday, and Monday morning started a six-year apprenticeship learning how to engrave copper plates and steel dies for the printing trade – letterheads, business cards and wedding invitations,” he explains.
“When my apprenticeship ended, I couldn’t get away fast enough. I rented a small room in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and started my own one-man engraving business.”
Graham went on to sell to Harrods, Fortnum and Mason, every investment bank in the City, 10 Downing Street and even, Buckingham Palace. He’s produced business cards for the likes of Zsa Zsa Gabor, Richard Branson and Andrew Lloyd-Webber and has a huge celebrity following.
Graham’s works now sell for hundreds of thousands of pounds and are sought-after collectors’ items, but the thing I’m really interested in, is how on earth at the age of 75 Graham does this. His answer was certainly not what I expected…
Committed to his cause
“Well, I’m super-fit, swimming between 5,000 and 8,000 metres a day,” he says.
He continues: “I engrave from midnight to 5am, when it’s quiet, to avoid vibrations from passing traffic, which can damage my work. I take a cocktail of potassium, magnesium and beta blockers so I can keep as still as possible and wear a stethoscope, so I know my heart rate drops to 20 beats per minute. Oh, and I also have botox every three months around my eyes, so I’m not distracted by the nerves and muscles there.”
I ask him whether his eyesight will ever become an issue and again, a response I wasn’t expecting.
“My eyes actually aren’t that great, but I work through a microscope,” he explains.
“I have a cataract in my left eye, but it’s no big deal to operate on that. I’m really healthy and hardly ever ill and I know I’m lucky, I really do. My mother lived to one hundred – on her own, doing her own housework. She even used to paint, decorate and garden herself.”
Graham’s views on retirement are very much aligned to mine – if you love your work, why give it up!
“If people think giving up work would be more fulfilling, they should do it – no-one should keep doing something they don’t enjoy, life’s too short,” he says.
He continues: “I get to travel the world giving talks and no two days are the same. I’m in a position to be able to give to charity and meet amazing people. While I’ve still got my health, I’ll keep going. And if I wasn’t doing this, then I’d absolutely have to do something. Once you start to have a nap in the afternoon, sit down on the sofa all day, well, then the end will come quicker than you want.”
Wise words from a talented man – and ones which I wholeheartedly echo. Life is for living – right to the end. No matter what your career or life circumstances. We can all find our passion and our purpose and thankfully, most of us won’t have to work through the night – or need Botox – to achieve it.
You can see Graham’s amazing work here
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