People handle change in very different ways, and turning 40 is my own most recent change.
I'm not sure how common it is to just automatically start thinking about your mortality at 40, but I've certainly been pre-occupied the last few days with where this "milestone" puts me on my own little timeline. One of the many things that has come to mind is my heart. I was reading an article just this morning of a competitive mountain bike racer in Boulder, CO that is in his late 40's and has had to finally quit racing, somewhat later in life, due to on-set of A-fib. So, as we do, I was reading and internalizing the idea of potential heart problems creeping up someday....maybe sooner than later now.
The article added to the whole mess of things stirring in my head, but the idea of the heart, there is more to it than it's ability to keep on beating.
My heart health check has to go beyond some stickers and wires and running on a treadmill. 40 years down and I have to be honest that my heart has been predominantly committed to one thing....my self, my self preservation, my self motivation, my self satisfaction. 40 years down and I think its time I try to start growing up a little....maybe even try to live a little for someone else. Specifically, my wife and two boys.
It's hard to admit that I've not given 100% of me to my own family, but it's true. I'm, by default, selfish and a little self absorbed. I'm not overtly dismissive or detached, but I can honestly say that, at the end of every day, it's not that often I can look back and say, "I did the very best I could for my boys and Kelli". Oddly enough, it's as usual that I probably didn't do the best I could for myself either.
In the last year it's weighed on my mind that all I need to do is; be the best me in any given moment or situation, that I can be. Be completely present; in a conversation, at dinner, at work, at play, with my wife, with my kids, with my friends....be there, completely and with total effort...."leave it all out on the field".
Ironically, attempting that very level cost me the last couple weeks with a shoulder injury from baseball--more evidence of cresting that mountain and starting down the other side--the skill set of younger days, and the endurance in the joints is maybe a thing of the past, to some extent.
What I can do, without risk of injury, is adjust my focus toward my children and their walk in this life. I cant provide everything they need, but I can make sure that what they need from me, they get, and that they get it without resentment, without distraction, and without hesitation.
I can adjust my focus from myself and toward my wife. She committed herself to a life with me, it's literally the least I can do, to make every effort to make her feel like it was a good decision. She needs to go to sleep at night knowing how much she is appreciated and loved.
At the end of the every day, I need to know that I have made every effort to make each of their respective days, better. I need to make sure I've done what I can to make sure our connection will live beyond our timelines as well.
I need to put the effort in today, on this side of the mountain, for my family, so that it doesn't really matter that much if my timeline is much shorter than I hope it is.
If I do it right, my boys, my wife, my circle....they can flourish, knowing we'll see each other again....if I'm a father and husband...not just a guy with kids and a wife.
I've had 40 years to myself; they deserve the time and attention now.
In contemplating "heart health", I think I can accept that, yes...one day my heart will physically fail me. We are not guaranteed tomorrow. If I focus on the journey of my boys, help them climb the mountain, give them the skills and attention to thrive...maybe I can make the work load on their hearts a little easier by supplementing the workload with mine. Maybe having the opportunity to raise these guys is my only way of seeing back on the other side of the mountain. Even more exciting it to know they can find a better trail up than I did.
I pray, at the close of this note, that God forgives my mistakes up to this point, my selfishness, my sad humanity. I pray that, at 40, I can begin a new on my timeline, a point marked by obvious change and commitment to my family and others needs. Only God knows when and where it will come to a close, so I cant afford to NOT attack the remaining hike down the mountain with full vigor, full commitment to the moment, with a love for all those brave enough to walk with me, ahead of me, behind me, and beside me.
So, here I am...possibly at the peak of the mountain...or maybe I'm actually not quite there yet? Either way, it's been a beautiful hike so far. I need to remember to look around a little while I'm up here, there might be some things worth telling my kids about.