“One minute you are young and cool, maybe even a little dangerous, and the next minute you are reading amazon reviews for birdseed.”
I’ve always tried to be as transparent as possible when I share things here because the goal for me the past decade or so has been to leave behind a collection of content that my son will one day read and hopefully have a better understanding of who I was as a man. This idea came to me several years ago when my mom pulled some letters out that my grandmother, her mom, had written someone. We had an awesome time reading them. Since my grandmother on Mom’s side passed away one day short of my second birthday I never had an opportunity to really know her. It was eye opening to me how something as simple as a handwritten letter could offer so much insight into people’s thoughts, values, and even their personalities.
Well, in the interest of transparency I decided to throw up a post regarding my upcoming 50th birthday. No doubt, it’s a milestone… I’m probably just as surprised as many of you that I made it this far. The truth is, I’ve been extremely blessed in more ways than I can count. I want to put that out there front and center and give God all the glory because he’s given me so much grace through the years. None of us are perfect, I prove that each day (sometimes before most of you are even out of bed).
The truth is that I have a wonderful family and I’m happier professionally than at any other time in my career (even in businesses that I built myself). I work with an awesome group of people that I love collaborating with 24/7. I also feel like I’m able to perform at a higher level than ever before, even better than when I was in my 30’s). Physically, I’m in a pretty good place despite the abuse I put my body through during the “crazy days”, obviously I wish my pancreas worked a lot better and it’s embarrassing when I’m out with my friends and the “check liver” light comes on. I was looking at some photos the other day that were taken when I was in my 40s when I was a biscuit or two away from 300lbs. My best guesstimate is that I’m probably down about 80-100lbs since that photo was taken and I’m definitely able to do more physically than I could 10 years ago w/ a handful of exceptions that I’m reminded of daily.
The old saying, with age comes wisdom, is true. I personally read more books this year than any other year prior, but I’m not sure that has made me wiser… As a person, I’ve learned a lot about myself, things I never even thought about 10 years ago such as the environment that I need to be in to thrive and remain committed. I’ve also learned a lot about my personal weaknesses and how to counter them by channeling energy elsewhere. I’ve also learned how to set goals and achieve objectives using tools I wish had learned in school. I’ve also learned to value certain things much differently. I prioritize things much differently these days and am drawn to things that are authentic and real and am probably more turned off by things that are fake, not authentic, etc. Unfortunately, I deal with depression and low spots at times just like most people but on the upside I’ve also learned how to “snap out of it” by pursuing things that genuinely bring me joy, prime example my garden. Most days this is pretty much all I need to recycle my mood —until recently I guess…
I’d always heard of men having their “mid-life crisis” before, and from what I’ve gathered this phenomenon hits all men differently and their responses are all across the board. I think everyone has seen someone they know run out and buy a new sports car in hopes of clinging to whatever youth or “coolness” they think they still possess. I wish it was this easy for me, but I’ve already had the fast cars so this doesn’t really do it for me. I think for me it’s been more anxiety that my best years are probably pretty much behind me in a couple of areas that I guess I’ve always taken for granted. I’m definitely not able to keep up with the crowd I run with when we are out together because they are 20 years younger. I’m not a vain person by any means but I look in the mirror and see more and more grey hair, I have to use special glasses to read, my bones hurt when the weather changes, and heck… I take a stool softener every morning… but, back in the day I used to be cool.
I’m not putting all of this out there for sympathy. Again, I’m just being honest and transparent. I’ll be the first to admit that recently I’ve let a few of the aforementioned things take up more real estate in my head than they deserve. Many guys I’ve talked to have admitted to traveling down these same roads at various times in their lives so there’s no shame. In fact, there’s never any shame in not being okay… get help if you need it. Trust me, I have myself at times.
While I’ve came to the realization that there’s no shame, I will admit to feeling guilty recently (and for good reason). I love that the Holy Spirit is able to convict me of things and force me to take a step back and see the big picture when I lose focus.
A few weeks ago I lost one of my high school running buddies. He fought cancer so hard, driven by his love for his family and his determination to see his children grow up. I was sitting in the church during his funeral consoling a dear friend who had just lost her dad a short time earlier… and here I am in my feelings because I’ve got a few more gray hairs and the attractive college girls that I was asked to speak to a few years ago about entrepreneurship now call me “Mr Cotton”… yeah, once I took a step back I felt pretty self centered and absorbed (not who I am, I hope anyway).
I was handed another reminder this past weekend when I received news that another close friend and “running buddy” had passed away. I won’t go into a lot of detail, but suffice to say that he and I made a lot of horrible decisions together when we were younger. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that 80% of the time we had fun, unfortunately many of us picked up unhealthy habits and lifestyles that we carried with us much longer than we should have. I was fortunate in that I crashed violently and hit rock bottom sooner than later and it gave me somewhere to change my direction. Unfortunately, my buddy continued to fight his demons until the end. While his story makes me sad, I do find joy in knowing that some of our friends made it a point for him to understand and form a relationship with a higher power, so I know that he had eternal plans that are centered around peace, unlike the war he fought on this earth.
Again, I ponder the silly things that have kept me awake at night, distracted me, and robbed me of joy most recently and it blows my mind how much I had lost perspective. Hopefully, 50 will be a turning point for me and my focus will return to the things it needs to be on 100% of the time. This is what I’m going to be focusing on anyway.
I’ve already shot down a couple of people trying to throw me a surprise party or do something special for my 50th birthday. I can’t explain why, but I just want to have a quiet evening w/ my family and maybe a few close friends in the coming weeks… my cousin probably put it best when she said that I wanted to ascend into darkness with fanfare, haha.
I’ve always considered ’Pirate Looks at 40’ to be one of Jimmy Buffets best songs, lots of parallels in that song for me personally, haha. I know he named his book ‘Pirate Looks at 50’ ,but I’ve always wondered why he didn’t ever release an updated song?