“The 6 Most Important Learnings From My Summer”,
#5 – LIVING
Life is lived in stages.
We all evolve, or potentially devolve, but we are never static. Birth. Childhood. Adolescence. Young adulthood. College. Our 20’s with our first jobs, the paving of our ways for a career. First loves. Getting married. Having kids. Achieving a modicum of success as professionals while developing skills that are actually marketable. Learning to thrive as mature adults. I used to plan out 5, 10 and even 20 year blueprints for myself. Now I find I am hesitant to commit to a path or course of life that might even be three years long. Is it because I am older and see it more clearly now? All of these gray hairs have to symbolize something sage don’t they?!
Your greatest strengths can also be your greatest weaknesses.
Over the years I have developed a knack for being able to wait. (Stop chuckling… I know some of you think that I am always ready to GO! right now, hell-bent on what we can right now accomplish, change or move ahead.) There are many times where I plan ahead and wait patiently for things to develop - I can see their predictable outcomes so there is no reason to rush things along. I prioritize my energy, my actions and even schedule some of my emotions (I know that there is a certain amount of sickness in this, thank you for noticing). Many, many things works themselves out naturally, according to well laid plans when you add in a bit of patience. My ability to wait, along with my other natural tendency to plan ahead for key items, allows me to put my actions and emotions for any given item on a shelf while time passes until I believe it’s the right time to work on or deal with something.
Hoping in the face of reality.
I have spent the last few years getting through the pain in life; waiting, hoping sometimes without out realistic hope, but wanting to really live. And the irony? I was living the whole time… it’s just that some of life really sucked. Often during this time of waiting, I packed up my frustrations and disappointments, my anger and my pain and used it to fuel my training which lead to two Ironman races within a 6 month period. I call it ‘running angry’. (Yes, most Ironman athletes are sadistic individuals like myself. Broken individuals who are probably escaping some other reality in their lives by turning their energies towards a sport that they can actually control which yields hours upon hours of training to push our bodies over finish lines but not for the glory of the accomplishment. Rather we do it unknowingly to swim, bike and run as hard as we can away from those things that we really can’t control. Yes, there are some rare exceptions, but most are just grinding, hardworking, pain-loving, sadistic mofo’s.)
In the absence of living I had existed.
And for a season, I just waited. There is nothing wrong with waiting… just as long as you don’t stop living while you do it. However, I discovered this summer that I hadn’t just been waiting for things to get better in my life, but rather I had put my whole life on PAUSE for a season. I had stopped living to a large degree while I was waiting. But now peace has arrived and I feel the life that I have been craning for this entire time.
Hope is now, not in the future.
Through my summer experiences I have begun to dream again. I am learning again to fully experience all of the best things while also doing a much better job of embracing the growth that can be found in the pain of life. I chose to take in every possible great thing that life has to offer and focus on being present. Present with my friends, present in the life giving opportunities to be outside, present in my work and certainly present with my boys — every moment that we get to spend together. This is not to say that I am not still feeling pain in some moments or utterly avoiding it, because neither of those things is possible. But now? Now I am able to embrace painful things, see and experience them for what they are and then also contextualize them to give them their proper places right next to all of the beauty and joy. By doing this, choosing to fully embrace both pain and joy, I have a better sense of the fullness of life.
I am living in fullness of life and it is as good as anytime I can recall. Sure, I have had moments like this before. This is not just ‘the one moment of enlightenment’ that some people seek. And it is certainly not a damn mid-life crisis, but thank you for being concerned about my 40th birthday!
A song that mirrors your makeup.
Last summer my son Ethan bought the newest album from OneRepublic, “Native“.
I wasn’t a fan at first, but I caught myself listening to it over and over again while taking long drives in the car on emotionally difficult days. Jumping right off the album was the song “I Lived” (lyrics) . The chorus resonates with my sense of adventure and thirst for life.
I had been stumped to see the future, but everything in me wanted to continue to live, to experience every moment, to do all the things and squeeze the life out of this life. And yet I had been hampered in finding the missing elements in my life to truly live the way I craved to live.
Through my summer experiences I have begun to dream again. Here’s the chorus and my favorite verse from OneRepublic’s “I Lived”. May this never not be my motto. (You are welcome for the double negative in that sentence.)
I, I did it all
I, I did it all
I owned every second
That this world could give
I saw so many places
The things that I did
Yeah, with every broken bone
I swear I lived
Hope that you spend your days
But they all add up
And when that sun goes down
Hope you raise your cup
I wish that I could witness
All your joy and all your pain
But until my moment comes
I did it all