It was my 47th birthday last week.
Borrowing from the late Oliver Sachs, I decided to look up 47 on the periodic table. I was happy to discover it’s the element Silver (47Ag). So the next 12 months will represent my Silver Year.
When I’m going through a tough patch, I tell myself to live-every-phase.
I have two tendencies that distract from a goal of living every phase of my life.
The first is wishing backwards – mourning the loss of peak physical power.
The second is wishing forwards – feeling like I am trapped in a perpetual holding pattern with my preschoolers. Wishing for freedom that, I believe, will come later.
The above thinking is not useful.
A useful antidote is to reflect on the advantages of my Silver Year.
My life is straightforward, surrounded by wonderful people, close to nature and simple.
While I’m past my athletic sell-by date, nearly all my physical changes so far have been positive.
Staying healthy is easier, and requires much less time, than I expected. As a former ultra-endurance athlete, the toughest part has been changing my belief system to reflect what I’ve seen with my body.
With that in mind, I’ll offer this observation about my younger self.
- If you have the capacity to convince yourself that total focus towards your goal is “necessary”
- If you have the capacity to commit significant, sustained attention towards a narrow field of interest
- If you have the capacity to recover from high workloads
- then you have what it takes to succeed.
You also have the capacity for sustained, extremely poor judgement.
Success in a narrow niche is about getting a lot of work done, shedding non-core and motivating others to help you achieve.
As we age, we’re likely to value connection more than success.
…and connection is about being good enough across a wide-network of relationships.
…and my relationships benefit from what I don’t do, don’t say, don’t indulge
Now, at this stage of my life, there is a growing realization that the people around me don’t care about my personal productivity. They want to see me happy and serene.
However, I notice that time is passing and the window for getting-stuff-done is closing.
But what stuff will “I” value having gotten done if I arrive at my Golden Year (79Au)?!
I deal with this tension by pausing and paying attention whenever I feel happy, content and serene.
The motto “live every day” always makes me feel like I should be enjoying myself.
For my Silver Year, I prefer “live every phase” — giving myself permission to experience my difficulties as they come and vowing to keep moving forward despite knowing how the story will end.
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