I turned 41 this week. I told my parents on the phone – “I’m getting faster.” They thought that I meant that time is getting faster, expiring more quickly. I corrected them – “I meant was that I was getting faster – faster swimming, on the bike, and running. I’m 41 and still getting faster and until I start to slow down, I don’t consider myself to be aging.”
In January, I thought I’d never heal. On Monday (my birthday), I woke up to do 51 mile ride and 5.1 mile run, and learned that I am indeed faster and fitter than any time in the past two years. On Tuesday, I took a cross-country flight to NYC and found myself at the hotel gym at 1:00am working out and feeling good doing it. This weekend, on Sunday, I’m racing an Olympic distance triathlon, and I fully expect to win my age group.
Whether I win or not is irrelevant – it’s that I know going into this race that I am physically and mentally ready to compete and be fast. I don’t feel pressure to do well, I just know that if I am mentally ready and have a bit of luck, I’ll be fast and I’ll feel great, burning on the edge of what I know I can endure. I am happy and grateful that I’ve reached this point.
Lena’s been leading the massive effort to declutter our lives and she’s scary good at it. First working through clothes and now books, and eventually the remaining random items that take up space in the house. The criteria for keeping vs tossing an item is simple:
“Does this object bring me joy?”
If the answer is “no,” then out it goes.
It’s a good rule for life. I’ve started asking myself before any activity – “Will this bring me joy?” If it doesn’t, then why do it? Of course, there’s always some “work work” that needs to done and those tasks aren’t always joyful. But in thinking about my life, there’s nothing more important than experiencing joy everyday in everything I do. This is the path that Lena and I are finding for ourselves, and the path that I want Benjamin to take his for his life. Most things I thought I “had” to do aren’t important at all.
Much of life is a facade, an imagined wall, that’s constructed through expectations and social norms. I’m learning that once I start hammering away, the wall is brittle and hollow. It cracks when I take a focused swing at it, and that can even be a little scary. Debris flies everywhere and I feel like everyone around me is watching and wondering what they heck I’m doing. I have to tell myself that no one is watching me, that everyone is just staring at their own wall.
I believe that if I persist, the wall will crumble into a pile of dust and I learn there was never any wall at all, just a personal barrier of fear – fear that I won’t be “successful.” Fear that I won’t be able to provide for myself and my family. Fear that failure matters to anyone.
There are days where the sun streams through the cracks of my wall, and it’s beautiful and glorious. There are days when I go back to my wall and find that the very same places I’ve demolished the day before are rebuilt and reinforced. When I pick up my hammer and swing again, there’s nothing there – it was just my fear.
So today, right now, this morning, I’ve got my hammer in hand and I’m about to take a few massive swings. I see a crack. I see a hole. I see parts of the wall about to crumble. Soon the wall will be gone.
I’m getting faster. This brings me joy.