Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Reflections on a half-life...

A half-life is many things.  It’s a video game.  It’s a scientific term (t1/2) for the time an isotope loses half of its original radioactivity.  It’s a mile marker.  It’s a wake up call.  It’s a question.

I’ve been alive and active on planet Earth for 15,877 days.  There are 15,535 days until my 86th birthday.  I will gladly take more than 86 years, but at this point with the average lifespan of the American male at around 78 years, I would take that.  Seems like a good goal at least for now.  So taking 86 as the goal, I suppose I am at my midway marker, my half-life.  I would like to consider my life half full, not half empty by the way,  I think I have myself set up for that to be the case.

Sitting in the radiology wing of the local hospital waiting for the technetium to make its way through your circulatory system is a good place to ponder such things.  It isn’t an unpleasant thing in and of itself, waiting.  The IV part was less so, but the young woman who started it was good at her craft and we chatted about schools and kids as she sheepishly commented that I am younger than most of the men she sees.  I made her less uncomfortable (I hope) by commenting that her gerontophilia secret is safe with me.  There was at least a giggle that let me know that she understood what I meant.

Thinking about why I am here this morning undergoing a stress test is far less interesting to think about than what happens next.  What type of mile marker might this be?  What kind of questions might this experience pose?  What do I do with the insight gained from the results of the test, positive or negative?

I am not really worried about the test per-say, or even about the results.  Maybe a little concerned that I will fall off of the treadmill as it speeds me toward temporary exercise overload at an unnatural incline.  I am really not concerned at the moment about the stressors that likely caused the chest pains, fatigue and other ailments that triggered the appointment that resulted in the test being scheduled in the first place.  My thoughts keep circling back to this idea of today being a midway marker.

I have had a very robust life thus far.  A wonderful childhood with loving and supportive parents, two younger brothers who fulfilled the roles of both playmate and adversary well.  No complaints and no regrets.  I had a great school experience with some memorable teachers and friends.  I had great athletic experiences, with wonderful memories of my Dad as my coach and my Mom and brothers cheering me on.  All in all I was blessed then by a loving community, and am blessed now by the memories.  Childhood portion of life – 14 years – CHECK

My teenage years were spent with some great friends, girlfriends and sports experiences.  Mostly positive, all educational.  I learned that I love music, I need time to myself occasionally to recharge my batteries, I love writing and creating, and that I have a strong desire to make things better.  Great memories came from dances, church camp, first experiences, and some of the best popular culture the world has ever known.  Sports injuries, insecurity, and the feeling of being “out of place” in my community were all valuable challenges.  Teenage portion of life - 5 years – CHECK

College was wildly educational.  My hometown had a population in total of less than 2000 people.  Bowling Green had a student population of well over 20,000.  Big fish from a small pond dropped instantly into the ocean.  Learning to swim in the ocean currents and changing tides were exciting lessons to learn.  SO many new experiences, deeper friendships and lessons learned.  A few regrets and a few mistakes, but all in all I am blessed by the memories.  My education came in the way of great freedoms, great friends and decent professors.  College portion of life – 5 years – CHECK

My wife and I started dating in my senior year of college.  It was a clearly defined turning point from the chaos of college life to actually starting to think like an adult.  It was a rough transition for both of us, and there were certainly some bumps along the way.  For the most part we broke one another down to fit into the marriage mold by the time we stood before family, friends and God in 1999 and committed ourselves to the ever after.  The first couple of years we spent discovering our differences and pushing the envelope.  Learning to love someone, we came to find, was different than being in love with someone.  Newlywed portion of life – 3 years – CHECK

We purchased our first home in 2001 and spent a few wonderful years remodeling and building sweat equity, and our careers.  I regret not traveling while we could, just the two of us.  I don’t regret waiting until we were ready to start a family.  Settling in to adulthood portion of life – 3 years – CHECK

Our first son was born happy and healthy in 2003.  He changed our lives forever and solidified any shaky ground we had in our commitment to making this whole marriage thing work.  It became real, and we realized we were pretty well equipped to do this new parenting thing we obligated ourselves to.  We made such an impressive tiny human the first time that we produced the follow up version 2 years later.  Our second son taught us more valuable lessons, patience and teamwork being among them.  I took on several leadership roles during these first years of parenthood.  Banking, retail, credit unions…leading teams and creating value became a passion, second only to the commitment and love I felt for my awesome little crew of humans.  We became increasingly involved in our church community and in our small group and discovered that life was between when it was shared.
Young parent portion of life – 5 years - CHECK

A move to our second home and the birth of our third son came along in my 35th year.  I was the CEO of a credit union I dearly loved, I was the father of three sons, I was husband to a beautifully strong woman.  Life was good and it flew by as we made new friendships and plugged in fully to our community.  God blessed the years in Orrville with some great opportunities and great relationships.  We learned the value of sidewalks for connecting people and walking out issues.  We learned what you miss when you lose a good church community.  I learned the risks you take when you let work take priority over family and avoided (thankfully) most of the consequences.  When an opportunity to test the ocean waters came again with a larger credit union I cautiously stepped in and we made a move to Ashland.  We traded our century home on a city lot to a country home with a park attached.  Sidewalks were traded for wooded trails and tricycles for ATVs.  My wife decided that she can do without Ohio, but that if the boys and I are here that she can tolerate it, probably.  Soccer, football, music lessons and some family vacations moved the years along at an increasingly rapid pace.  Taking time to smell the roses is a rare thing in this season.  But I know that I am blessed by the fullness of life.  Family fun portion of life – 5 years – CHECK

This all brings me to present day.  Now in as CEO role with a wonderfully different kind of company.  Three active and healthy young men, one undeniably in his teen years now.  Navigating the “quieter side of love” season of marriage where weekend getaways are replaced by rushed date nights fit between kids activities and work obligations and where snuggling on the couch with a sitcom replaces whatever used to happen once the kids finally went to bed, whatever that was.  Career is still full of leading teams and building value, but now has a more spiritual aspect of redeeming broken systems for God’s Kingdom.  Feels good and satisfies my soul, but also carries with it an inherent stress to push for more value and better results.  Kids are getting into the ages that a parent suddenly realizes that they only have a few years left to instill the life lessons and wisdom that they will need to survive this ever changing world in which we’re living.  Stress of fitting 3 weeks worth of activity into each and every 168 hour period is maddening.  Anxiety of juggling the puppies and chainsaws of the good stuff and the necessary stuff while singing a happy song is enough some days to make anyone grab their chest and in their best Fred Sanford impression exclaim that this is the “big one.”

Which brings me to today…I am about three years, 1100 days or so, into this period of life, whatever you want to call it.  Middle age, circus time, wonder years…

I am forced to take a time out today, to wait.  To wonder what dreams may come and what adventures await the second half.  Good books and good movies always thrill you in the second half.  Good stories have endings that make you wish they were a little longer.  Good wines have a memorable finish.  I have no reason to believe as I wait here this morning that the second half of my story should be any less wonderful than the first.  I know there will be painful moments.  I know there will be disappointments.  And I know that through it all God will continue to refine me and teach me.  I know that love will surround me because I will continue to pour it out.  I will work a little harder on making sure that the stresses of this full life don’t take away from the enjoyment of it.  I will work harder to make sure that I do a better job of balancing work and play, and find joy in both.  I will get my steps in and my cardio goals accomplished along with my weight down and such.  I do anticipate that there may be, in my later years a nice young radiologist with a thing for old men, but I will resist the temptation to flirt with her. I pray that my wife will be by my side to be embarrassed if I do.  I’m guessing that I will be just as in love with her as I am now (my wife, not the radiologist).

I will work to keep the story moving toward a fantastic finish, one that will make those around me wish that my life, no matter how many days, was just a little longer.

Now, it’s almost time to go see if I can stay on the treadmill and if I gain any superpowers from the radiation.  A guy can dream…

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Current reflections with an old world twist

Some modern reflections with an old world twist...

Long suffers the soul that knows what it wants in a body that is shackled by restraint and slowed by guilty connections to the expectations of society.

Agile is the man who listens to his soul's whispering and steps away from the ease of common sense and security.

Fortune is measured by many metrics, but the most significant is the measure of value created for those who most need it with no hope for return and no promise of glory.

There is little reward at the end of a life lived for oneself and no hope for eternal gratitude, yet for one who lives his life for the benefit of others the reward is enjoyed both now and forever.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Forty List

Forty List

There is a Buddhist quote that reads, “There are only two mistakes along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting.”  Since I am now 40 years into my journey along this winding road I thought that it would be a good mile marker to list 40 truths that I have found along the way.  They may not be true for you, but that’s fine, you have your own road to travel.
      1.        God is real, whether you like it or not.
2.        I am a terrible electrician, and an even worse plumber.
3.        I am a good painter, canvas, or living rooms.
4.        There is no good reason to ever deny a child a hug.
5.        Sugar is only healthy if you happen to be a hummingbird.
6.        There is more than one way to do just about anything, but there are a lot of wrong ways too.
7.        People are always more important than money.
8.        Small acts, over time can yield BIG results - good or bad.
9.        Jesus is not religion.
10.     Honesty really is the best policy.
11.     You can’t control love; you can only hope to point it in the right direction.
12.     People are generally good when given the opportunity to meet their basic needs.
13.     I am driven to fix things.
14.     I am inclined to break things that don’t work the way they should.
15.     There’s rarely a good enough reason to fight, but when there is there’s rarely a good enough excuse to walk away.
16.     Real butter is better.  Deal with it.
17.     You can’t fake happy.  You can fake confidence.
18.     When someone takes the time to seek you out to talk, you need to listen.
19.     Churches should be about love, not laws.
20.     I hate politics, and am not too fond of most politicians either.
21.     I would probably make a pretty good politician.
22.     I support equality.  We have no right to judge, we have the obligation to love.
23.     People need guardrails, but should drive their own lives, without cruise control.
24.     Love is a right that no government, church or institution should deny.
25.     Love is eternal, life is short.  Always choose love.
26.     Always pack extra clothes.  Always.
27.     Your keys should never cross the plane of the trunk.
28.     If you listen to your heart, you will know.  The truth has nowhere to hide in there.
29.     God does not want religion, He wants a relationship.
30.     Play should be proportional to work; you need both to be satisfied.
31.     My wife is amazing.  My wife is patient.  I love my wife.
32.     We all need to feel appreciated, and part of a team, family or community.
33.     My Momma loves me, and my Daddy is proud of me.
34.     If you want more, you should learn to need less.
35.     You never outgrow the need to have silly, unproductive fun.
36.     There is right and there is wrong, choose right even when others don’t.
37.     Credit unions are a better way to do your banking.
38.     You don’t choose who you are related to, only God knows the right mix of love and crazy.
39.     Being a husband and father changes a man.  Much like rain and sunlight change an acorn into an oak.
40.     Being 40 years old is less about where I have been, and more about where I am going! 

On to the next 40 years!