“Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it.” – Ellen Goodman
Between 1980 and 1984 there was a show called That’s Incredible!. Hosted by Cathy Lee Crosby, Fran Tarkenton and John Davidson, each week they would parade everyday individuals doing extraordinary things. I can remember watching people pull steam engines with only their teeth, holding their breath under water for minutes on end and countless other feats of strength, balance, endurance and bravery. I believe it was from that program that I became curious even obsessed with discovering what my potential might be. Beyond art and design, I’ve never specialized in any one thing rather I’ve always been a serial experimenter of sorts. Once I self-taught myself a skill like juggling, walking on my hands, or even a skateboarding trick, I’d just as quick move on to something new. 12-year-old me would be pretty surprised at how much 45-year-old me has maintained the same curiosity and enthusiasm for development as 12-year-old me. So like LL Cool J said, “Don’t call it a comeback, I been here for years.
And when I was recently chided by someone about the Ironman I’ve now been training for since March, they referred to my succession of ambitious goal setting and adventure seeking as the tired and well-worn expression of ‘Mid-Life Crisis’. Yes, crisis.
Is happily getting up early on a Sunday morning to run ten miles just because you enjoy it, because you’re in the best shape of your life and still improving a crisis? Or is facing obesity, diabetes and daily doses of pharmaceuticals to keep your blood pressure in check? Is owning little and owing even less really a crisis or is the realization you’ll be working past the age of seventy-five to pay down an increasing accumulation of debt? Did this sad and out of shape dude really think it was my life that was in crisis or was it just a defensive and passive aggressive way of trying to take some wind out of my sail?
No man, I didn’t take the proverbial blue pill but don’t call it midlife and definitely don’t call it a crisis. I get to live life on my own terms, filled with as much gratitude as adventure and with as much contentment as ambition and one that a small 12-year-old me from Grove City, Ohio would certainly describe as “incredible.”