It’s the end of my 30s and I feel fine

I thought a lot about my life’s trajectory while lounging on a Florida beach, soaking in the sun on my 40th birthday last week. The thoughts weren’t too deep. After all, I was about this beer-buzzed when I had them:

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In my tipsy and relaxed state I came to two conclusions.

First: My life is not in “crisis.”

Things are mostly OK right now. I enjoy my job, have a small group of close friends and a supportive, loving family.

Sure, I have my struggles (mostly with my own insecurities), but I am not running from or chasing anything either. I do not need a sports car or a much younger girlfriend to compensate for any fear of mortality or lack in my life (I am though perfectly ready to meet someone to enjoy spending time with.)

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Second:  Time is limited.

The first conclusion does not preclude my age from motivating me to change some things.

Forty feels so far off, until you’re 40.  Then you’re all like “woe, how the hell did time go by so fast” as reality sinks in while you’re drunk on a beach.  There are so many little things I meant to do by this point but put off because they might take too much effort, courage or discipline to make happen. At the very least, it is so easy to tell yourself there will always be tomorrow.

At 40 I feel like I don’t have a choice but to ask myself if I want to be the guy on his deathbed at 80 (if I’m lucky) wondering, “woe, how the hell did time go by so fast and why didn’t I ever do all those little things I wanted to?”

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Tim Robbins’ little jail yard speech to Morgan Freeman in “The Shawshank Redemption” also came to mind. Now is as good a time as any to “get busy living.”

So, once I sobered up I decided to take some small steps to make my life a little better by consciously deciding what I do with my time as much as possible.

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For example, I took a few minutes to speak with a real estate agent friend of mine once I got back from my beach trip.

I have talked about selling my house and moving to a better, more pedestrian friendly neighborhood for years. I’ve put off looking into the move because I am afraid the house will never sell. I bought during the marketing bubble of 2006 when real estate prices were severely inflated. It also needs some repairs.

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After telling my friend about my situation she was confident I could sell my house and make enough off of it for at least a partial down payment on another home.

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On another front, I always save events or activities on Facebook that I am interested in. I promise myself to go to them. Then the allotted time comes and I stay home instead. Some of it is due to my introverted nature. And sometimes it is because I don’t have someone to go adventuring with me.

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So, I made a goal of doing one activity a week that I would otherwise say I might do and then skip. So far I purchased tickets to attend an event about the history of whiskey making in Cincinnati this Friday AND I’m going to an Old 97s concert next Friday by myself.

I don’t even care if I do look like this old man dancing during the concert.

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And finally, I always wanted a tattoo but I have a huge pain, blood and needle phobia. I put all of that aside and started researching online. I read people’s experiences with getting ink and found the least tender spots on the body to have one placed on. I settled on the inner forearm. I also have a general idea that I want something that symbolizes all of the Flying Pig marathons I have run. On Thursday, I started shopping around for a reputable artist to put something like this on me:


I’ve also reached a third conclusion because of all of this: The things I want to do aren’t really THAT big of a challenge to realize if only I plan and start them.

I’m at a place where I realize the small things matter and are what add up to a memorable and pleasurable life. This includes day drinking on a beach and watching random gif of cats drinking beer. (I just made up that last thing because I stumbled upon this awesome gif. Enjoy!)

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#BREAKING: ALS challenge melts icy heart

I’m not into fads.

I don’t like too many popular TV shows. I rarely follow celebrity gossip or news. Virality in social media usually makes me want to barf.

I’ve occasionally been accused of being hipster-ish. I find that offensive. Hipsters are a fake counter-culture dressed in the flannel checkered grunge shirts of my youth.

Genuine cultural disruption? Safety pins pierced through lips and the Sex Pistols playing “God Save the Queen” on the Thames.

I’ve always loved the thought of rebellion and going against the grain, even if I am the plainest of flavors you will ever meet.

The latest grousing about fads started popping up on my Facebook account in late July.

Since then, I’ve felt this uncomfortable tension about the #IceBucketChallenge for the ALS Foundation.

It’s been completely invasive and unavoidable.

The woman I’m dating has been challenged. She’s planning on recording herself in her backyard while watering her garden.

In the past week, I’ve been challenged twice.

From what I understand, there is a time limitation to do the challenge or pay a hundred bucks. I think the statute of limitations for the challenge might have actually passed. I might give to the organization, or not.

If I do, I’ll never tell anyone.

I’m torn about everyone sharing their acceptance of the challenge. The nature of the public displays that everyone is doing screams “look at me, look at the good I’m doing.”

Still, I hesitantly admit the good being accomplished by the #IceBucketChallenge cannot be ignored at this point though.

I cannot deny the effectiveness of the campaign and how well it is serving the ALS cause. Last week I learned the ALS Foundation raised about $28 million more than the $1.9 million they raised last year to-date. That donation amount has grown exponentially since then.

Still, it wasn’t that astounding number that stilled my grumbling about #IceBucketChallenge videos clogging my Facebook page, or people nominating me for the challenge though.

I have watched a grand total of two #IceBucketChallenge video responses.

The first video was from this guy who starts out by going through the roof with the silly look-at-me antics that are characteristic of some of the challenges. Then Anthony Carbajal delivers a punch straight to the gut in his 6 minute 50 second video.

Watch (if you already have not):

I won’t say I cried by the end of the video, but I understood. The means sometimes do justify the end. People suffer horribly and die from this disease. If a social media stunt raises the profile of the ALS Foundation, well OK then.

I still believe the world would be a better place if we were all quiet DIY givers, spreading our few meager charitable donations around to all those in need. But really, that’s not most people. And there are many Anthony Carbajals in the world who deserve to live and have the deadly diseases that destroy them dealt with in a serious and scientific fashion. That costs real money.

I get it. I do. I just needed to be reminded. Thanks Anthony.

The other video I watched was from Neil Gaiman. I’ve never met Neil, but his work, as a book and comic book author, has stuck with me over the years. His wife’s brother died from ALS in his 20s. And there something about a paste-colored Brit walking half-naked on a beach, drenched in icy saltwater that made me chuckle. In the end, I respect Neil, therefore I respect his challenge.

Does that mean I’ll be posting my challenge video any time soon? Probably not. I’m glad to chat about it and my change of heart about seeing so many “challenges.” Public spectacles are not me though. I may over-share here and on social media sometime, but I will probably never be a public spokesperson or the face of some cause.

Instead, I hope researchers can use all that money to find a cure, or comfort of those afflicted. And finally I understand, ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, well done.