Tomorrow I turn 39.
Yep, April 6, 2015 is the day that starts the “almost 40” count-down clock. Although maybe it’ll change as the year progresses, at this point I don’t find myself thinking much of it….and I’m definitely not dreading it as much as it seems like you’re supposed to. When I was fresh out of college I had planned to be retired an onto a second life by now….but a funny thing happened during the race to business success, early retirement and a life of leisure…..beyond the fact that there wasn’t a pot of gold at every turn (darn!)….it was one of those things that wasn’t planned for, but changes everything…..I came to realize that for me, the prize couldn’t be measured solely in dollars and cents….that instead of triumph, it felt much more like a necessary commodity that didn’t bring with it the satisfaction I was looking for. Rather, the most fulfilling moments were in watching people lay everything they had on the line, maybe several times in a row, somehow find a new well of strength, a new reserve they never knew existed. The most fulfilling moments were in being a part of the growth that comes from struggle, in watching the underdog triumph and in the tears of joy that burst into life when someone does something they almost stopped believing was possible….something that others had long since ruled out. Fulfillment was in seeing people thrive.
It’s actually a funny thing for me because for a long time I’ve been known to joke about the fact that (in general) I hate people…..that the world would be a pretty great place if it weren’t for all the pesky people screwing it up…..but I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that this is not entirely true. Rather, as I’ve come to realize, I hate that so many people are willing to go quietly…..that so many are willing to simply give up on living the best version of themselves. But I’ve also come to realize that quiet doesn’t mean dead and that when put in the right environment and given a breath of fresh air, even the slightest flicker can grow into a raging flame.
In truth, it’s not safe to live up to our potential. It’s not secure to chase something far bigger than ourselves and there’s probably more comfort in beginning to settle down at 39…..but in truth, I don’t want to. I want to find the people and groups who are still chasing the best version of themselves and I want to leverage everything I’ve learned to get them there. I want to help the people who help their communities so that we all might thrive. I want to sit back at 89 (God willing) and know that Americans are stronger than ever and that they have achieved a new independence….health-independence.
It’s a long march forward and it’s a little scary…..but the path is coming into view.
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