Morgan Freeman: Golf's Life Lessons

I celebrated my 70th birthday this month. When I think about getting older, the main thing I often wonder is "How much older can I get?" But you can't worry too much about that. You just have to take in every little moment, and do all you can to ensure a healthy future.

As you mature in your career and your life, you realize that you're still in the game. But the game becomes different. I'm not aware of aging in Hollywood. I'm mostly aware of movement. I'm moving on. There are still challenging roles coming my way. I'm sometimes typecast to play father figures, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. The people I admired when I was coming up in the business were typecast, too—Gary Cooper, Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart, Sidney Poitier.

To transition into this new chapter of my life, I figured that it would be best for me to decide the kind of game I wanted to play. My business partner, Bill Luckett, suggested I try golf. I travel a lot, and that's hours of sitting in one position; I was no longer engaging in enough exercise. I worried about blood clots in my legs. After a few games, I quickly became a bona fide addict. I've lost many pounds since I started golfing. I get fresh air, I walk in wide open spaces.

Golf marks a major turning point for me, because I felt like I needed a change. But I never expected golf to be its own religion, a kind of spiritual journey. When you're aiming at the golf ball, it's the only thing in the universe of any importance. You're totally alone on the green. Yet it's not a lonely experience, because the game of golf is a journey that you take with your friends. The bigger point here is that golf is a good metaphor for one's life. The challenge of golf for me is trying to learn new rules. It's something you always have to work at; you don't get perfect at golf. It's the never-ending quest for betterment.

Newsweek subscription offers >

I don't think there is anyone in the world who would claim to have really mastered golf, or life. They're both constantly changing on you. One day, you think you've got it all working. But the next day, it can all fall apart. Watching the pros—Tiger Woods, Vijay Singh, Jim Furyk, Phil Mickelson—can be encouraging, because the game frustrates them in the same ways as it frustrates the rest of us. Though, lucky for them, they're not frustrated nearly as often.

The thing I continue to learn is that you should really do what makes you happy. As a kid, I had always been interested in flying. I graduated from high school and entered the Air Force. I lost interest in flying when I didn't become a fighter pilot. But I think now is a good time, a point of reflection, for me to go back and rediscover missed opportunities and different experiences.

About five years ago, I started learning how to fly. Now I'm a licensed jet pilot. It's hunky-dory. I can fly wherever I need to go! I have a new airplane on order that will even allow me to fly to Europe. It's not a big airplane. It's actually small. But it goes on long legs—and that's all you really need in life.

I haven't given up on my other passions, either. I've always sailed; it's not a sport, it's a lifestyle. I love the ocean and the open seas. I love sailors and the harbors. I can sit on a moored boat for days. Throw in a New York Times crossword puzzle and a can of mixed nuts, and that's what I call a dreamy day.

Newsweek subscription offers >

As far as my career goes, I've learned to find things that interest and challenge me. You want a script that holds your attention. When you're reading it, it should be like a good book. I've always had an inkling that, one day, somebody would ask me to play God. At the same time, you have to be careful: Christopher Reeve played Superman, and he could never escape from the role. I've played God in "Bruce Almighty" and now the sequel, "Evan Almighty," because both movies are comedies. We take the work seriously, but we're not taking ourselves too seriously. It's also another example of the kinds of new games that you can play as you become wiser with age.

Currently, I'm in Prague, shooting another movie. It's a beautiful city; sometimes the sun doesn't set until 9 o'clock at night. On days when I'm not working, you can guess what I'm doing. I'm on the golf course, practicing my shot. Sometimes, there's a bad shot. But I don't let that ruin my day. For as sure as God made little green apples, you can bet life is going to hand you another bad shot. The key is, you just have to be ready to take another swing.

Morgan Freeman: Golf's Life Lessons | News