Wednesday, November 27, 2013

You only go around once…

I love writing blog posts from a plane. You have nothing but time. They tend to be my longer posts and I’d like to think more thoughtful.

As I was waiting for the plane to take off, I was reading the paper and came across the obituaries. I used to spend a lot of time on Friday or Saturday nights, sitting at the Island in our old house in Winnipeg, beer in hand, usually a few beers into it, and reading the obituaries. Often tearing up and yelling over to Alice, “Alice, you got to read this obituary, this person was amazing!!!”

The obituary was my favorite part of the newspaper. They are real. They are telling. Essentially one’s whole life comes down to what their family rights about them and how they were perceived. More often than not it was the unsung hero’s, the mothers that loved their kids and family, who made awesome Christmas dinners, and was just in the background and supportive of their family, those that were self-less. Those were the ones that got me choked up the most.

Some would just talk about accomplishments, facts of their life, no more. Others just had the ancestry linage. The husband of, the uncle to, etc, etc. Those were the ones that I thought the family had not a lot of good to say.

Some people did it all. Fought in the war, started families, was involved in their communities. Perhaps climbed Everest. Loved their wife or husband deeply and were married over 50 years or more.

Every obituary tells a story and your life boils down to that final story.

I look at my life and I’ll be straight up, I feel young in my head, I peg it at a mature 17 year old, yet I know I’m not young in body at 48 years old. I know that at any point, I could die. It could have happened last year this time when I was hospitalized for blood clots in my lungs. Yes, even Ironman can get blood clots and die, and the odds are even great of getting hit by a car the more miles I ride. Not to mention endurance athletes tend to die younger do to over oxygenation. Only thing going for me is I’m not tall, you rarely see an old tall person.

I also look at Johan Stemmet, my twitter brother for the past 5 years who one day I want to meet, he’s a Kona qualifier, multi-time Ironman finisher, super fit and this year had a heart attack not long after a half Ironman at the airport. He had stints put in. He too is similar to my age.

So it gets me thinking, and I’ve been doing this fairly often in the last year, what do I want to do with the rest of my life?  Do I want to keep the status quo, or is there more I want to do?

In some respects I feel my life has just begun. I’m older and much wiser now. I look at the world differently. Definitely with more confidence and self-understanding. It’s really too bad it takes time and life experiences to gain that, I can’t imagine how amazing it would have been having it in high school.  I would have handled so many situations differently.

I don’t have regrets. Okay, I lie, yes I do, maybe a few…dozen, some big, most small. But what can you do about them. I do know that I can’t change the past and can only control the direction of my future, and I don’t know how long of my future is left so I feel some pressure. I think of the Steve Jobs Stanford convocation speech and think of his comments along the lines that life is fleeting, follow your passion, live each day like it’s last, death is inevitable…or at least that’s the spirit of the speech as I remember it.  

In some ways would it have been liberating for Steve Jobs to know he was dying and he had a limited time left? What was his perspective? Did it change his priorities?

So what do I want to do with my future?

I’m not sure if I want to set specific goals or pursue a feeling. For example, a specific goal could be…”do one Ironman a year” and an example of pursuing a feeling could be “living a life of adventure”.

I’m definitely specific goal driven, yet I wonder if that is the guiding principal I want to live my life from?

If you were to ask me, “What do you want to do with the rest of your life?” the only answer I have right now is to follow my intuition. Which is really another way of saying “live completely in the present and make decisions and choices as opportunities and challenges present themselves along the way”.

I know it’s easier said than done.

For example, I’d love to spend the winter in Scottsdale. I’m really hating the winters and the cold as I get older. It seems like I’m sacrificing my happiness. My job allows me the flexibility to work from anywhere. My intuition is to do it, go there for the winter, I’m not getting any younger, I like it there, and I could train year round in nice weather. Yet my family can’t join me.  I’d also love to up and travel with Alice somewhere, anytime, yet can’t, there is kids and school commitments right now.

I know this sounds very selfish to even think this way. True it is.

I do understand that on one hand it would be an adventure and experience. I like change and being in the environment of the unknown, yet on the other hand I know it would probably have a negative effect on personal family relationships and I may regret it in the future. In some ways it feels like I’m trapped.

I’m not complaining about my personal situation. I have accomplished so much personally and I have the most awesome family and was lucky enough to meet the greatest partner in the world, maybe even too good for me. 

Perhaps I’m having a mid-life crisis? I think I am.

I’ll be straight up with you, I never really believed there was such things as a mid-life crisis, or at least not for stable men that have a pretty good personal and family life. I thought it was just for unsatisfied men in bad relationships and or careers.

But her I am. In the last couple years I’ve bought all the things I wanted as a kid, starting with my pinball machines. Now I’m really wanting an old sports car, at first it was a 68 Camaro, now it’s a late 60’s, early 70’s Corvette. Five years ago, seriously wanting an old sports car wasn’t something I thought about. Now it is.

That’s got to signs of a mid-life crisis, no?

So the big question is, what to do. How do I have it all without sacrificing anything existing? I’m thinking there HAS to be a way, I just haven’t figured it out yet. At least I hope there is.

This past month in Arizona helped clarify things for me. I really needed that trip on so many levels. It was a work-think-adventure-train-cation. The 30 days I was there literally flew by, it seems surreal and almost like it didn’t exist. How I know it does exist is I’m back in decent shape, I lost weight, gained muscle and feel close to how I felt in 2011 when I was at the top of my triathlon game.

AND I don’t want to go back to how I physically and mentally felt prior to Arizona. I will say, quitting drinking has helped too. I miss beer and the partying for sure, but it’s getting less and less every day. There is something cool about waking up with mental clarity and consistency every day and not sabotaging your training efforts.

So………. it all comes back to my future obituary. What will it look like?  What do I want it to look like?

I just realized, having a mid-life crisis isn’t all that bad, it forces you to have a reality check.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out…

No Training – Flight to Cozumel – Rest & Introspective Day
192.6 lbs.


  1. So what will your epitaph be? What will they write on your grave? I suspect you'll have an M-dot for sure haha.

    Spike Milligan's was "I told you I was ill" haha true.

    Mine will be "Oh well ay"

    Maybe yours should be "I don't care"?

    Anyway when you come out to Malaysia next year make sure you build in a few days eitherside so a) you can acclimatise before the race and b) so will can chill a bit after the race. I promise you it'll be warm (very warm) everyday haha

  2. Haha the M-Dot is a given. Perhaps the entire tombstone is cut into an M-Dot. That would work.

    I don't care is a good one! or "Confidence don't care". haha