Everyone should have a “thing.” Some”thing” to look forward to. What’s life without one? – Nate Carr on pursuing his life’s passion.
I’m in my late 30’s now and becoming increasingly prone to making life observations. Maybe it’s because of my recent transition from military service. Maybe it’s because I’m married and have a child as do most of my friends and siblings with whom I talk about these things regularly. Whatever the reason for the uptick in my ramblings, being in your late 30s to early 40s seems about the right age for some intense introspection. You’ve lived long enough to be an expert at a thing or two, you likely have a family, probably made a little money, and there’s a good chance you own a few big things. Unfortunately, you are also likely to find yourself in a rut after a few, “I wish I could have…,” conversations over drinks with friends. I am beginning to see why mid-life crises seem almost inevitable for a huge portion of the population – few people have something to look forward to.
My parents had me when they were young – early 20s – and as I grew up I recognized that they were younger than most of my friends parents by a wide margin (I make this observation because I am trying to build up an excuse for why I never listened to their advice). Once this observation took flight in my head, I may have thought their experiences lacked worldliness and made a conscious effort to do the exact opposite of what they recommended. OK, that’s total bulls*&t, I was just like every other teenager when it comes to taking the advice of your parents. “What’s the worst thing that could happen? They’d be right? So be it then…I’ll come out smarter and better rounded having experienced the flaws in my decision making first hand.” Textbook teenage insanity. BUT, I didn’t disregard everything. One nugget my father passed on was to, “always have something to look forward to.”
For some reason that stuck – literally – he wrote it on a 3×5 card and stuck it to my refrigerator in my first apartment after college. That 3×5 card landed on at least another half-dozen refrigerators over the next decade before it was lost after one of my many moves (well, I thought it was lost until I let my wife proofread this and she pulled it out of a drawer). Losing it wasn’t a problem though, the idea was firmly ingrained in my way of life – one should pursue a passion, passionately. Such a passion will drive plans for the future, make you want to improve, and become somewhat of an advocate that just has to teach others and educate them on all the fun they’re missing.
So, there’s two strands to follow here. What do you do if you don’t have a passion and how can you keep things engaging if you already have a passion? If you’re lucky enough to already have a passion, I hope you can relate to everything written so far and what will follow. However, you’re really not my target audience for this writing so I’ll get this out of the way really quick. Remember, “Always have something to look forward to?” At minimum, I schedule two epic trips per year. By epic, I mean at least 6 days off to somewhere I’ve never been, likely off the grid, to experience something new. These trips usually take place in the late spring and fall. I also plan at least one weekend getaway per month with friends and family. Somewhere close that’s not logistically and financially taxing works best. The next level is getting something one the weekly schedule – I’m thinking bowling or pool. Something casual on the surface but breeds competition you can ultimately laugh at after being humiliated.
What if you don’t have a passion? It’s not too late but I am trying to figure out if a passion chooses you or if you choose it. Either way, if you don’t have one, start experimenting with various activities. Fly fishing is one you should start off with, although I am a bit biased on the subject. Nevertheless, fly fishing is one of those activities that allows for limitless travel, constant learning, and pursuit until senile or immobile. In other words, a lifetime of things to look forward to. Whatever activity grabs you and causes you to obsess about it is something worth pursuing passionately (I’m almost biting my tongue writing this – I AM NOT ADVOCATING FOR ILLICIT ACTIVITIES). Just put yourself into a position to have an experience that could be the one to suck you in and give you a new lease on life.
How can you make that happen? Go back two paragraphs. Start throwing things on a calendar and commit to them. I had a boss a few years ago that I really respected who said, “Things get real when you put them on your schedule – BE BOLD AND PICK A DATE!” Great advice. Fill your schedule up – I guarantee there a few fly fishing guides around that can help you out. Once you hook up, you’re hooked.