My family lived in Asia when I was a lad and the traditional homes featured highly polished wooden staircases. Sublimely dangerous, even my father took a tumble, breaking his leg in Okinawa while responding to a prowler late one night. My mother drove him home from the hospital the next day with a full leg cast, offering my first glimpse of aging and loss at the advanced age of 11. Until that moment it hadn’t occurred to me that my father, or by extension everyone, was anything but immortal.
During our time In Korea a few years earlier I had the habit of running down a similar set of polished stairs, with gym socks on, and more than once lost my footing, sprawling forward and face first, coming to rest with impact against the hard corner of a wooden aquarium. Bam. At least three times with this.
Face first and full impact.
It has been said that boys are easier than girls, assuming they physically survive childhood. Over and over I’d fall off of bikes, down stairs, into low ceilings, headfirst for the most part but no long-term damage.
My mid-life crisis came as a young man of 33. Fortunate at that age for I was healthy, energetic and with time enough to flail about for a few years with no lingering impact despite a terrible year of divorce, job change, and the death of a golden retriever.
All of this left me comfortably numb but good natured for some years to much of the joy or the bad of life, despite friends and family, and the hopeful efforts of a number of beautiful and caring women patiently invested in my eventual emotional availability.
If you know your own Crisis is pending, I suggest you get it out of the way as soon as opportunity allows and also take up running. I lost about 60 pounds training for a half marathon as my first marriage passed. Whatever you are facing, facing it without an extra 60 pounds can only improve outcomes.
The worst part of anything terrible is bracing for impact, and I have been in motion ever since, personally and professionally. If I had to sum up the decade of life that has been my 30s it would in motion—no longer content to wait for life to come to me.
My 30s have been Something and full of adventure, mistakes, victories, rivers, music.
I have seen the Milky Way from the deep woods and Orion shooting his arrows bright as Vegas from the Florida Keys, kayaked Michigan’s magnificent Pine River, won five bowling trophies, danced in Montreal with YMCA fundraisers until 6am, opened a concert hall, met Kevin Bacon, walked New Orleans until dawn, raised $25million or so.
We can call that a decade.
When I have been timid in decision making, passive to events or held hostage to my meek little heart, trouble has come my way. My best days have been the result of truth telling, action and effort. My worst spiraled downward by fear and regret.
What has all of this taught me?
Be Honest. A donor who gives you $5,000 can afford $10,000. Kindness. Be aggressive with annual fund asks on subscription renewals.
Don’t make the same mistake twice.
Women enjoy brunch.
I turn 40 now, and the That Nice Boy my close friends knew at age 30 is long gone, buried in the woods. I spent the first three years of my 30s tending to an ill person who held me in contempt, the rest of the years looking after myself, and now ready at last for the next gig.
I am grateful to make the turn with humor, a bit of humility, and, tumbling headfirst into Grace, anticipating the days ahead and with an open heart to the possibilities, more or less.
Onward, As always.