Be A Thinker

Thinking... deeply... or just confused.
Thinking… deeply… or just confused.

In this great, big, beautiful world of ours, there is variety of different approaches to everything in life.  Some people are dark and dour – seemingly each moment of the day is spent in a perpetual state of seriousness.  Other people seem to radiate joy, silliness and a joie de vivre that’s impossible not to be positively affected by.  Each of us will have an approach that works best for us.

But beyond just mood, we each look at the world a little bit differently when thinking about issues and ideas.  Maybe you are truly Zen, where your mind is free from influence and clear-eyed to each situation.  Maybe you are harried and hassled with nary a moment to spend in “wasteful” navel-gazing.

Me?  I’m a bit of a thinker and I’m here to make the case for why you should be too.

I think it’s important for me to discuss what I mean by a thinker before dashing headlong into the rest of this post.  A thinker is not someone who is necessarily smarter than anyone else.  It’s important to dispel this notion because (1) I don’t want your reading this entire blog post thinking “You utterly smug and arrogant son of a biscuit…”; and (2) clear definitions just make life easier.  So there.

My definition of a thinker is someone who takes a bit of time to give thought and reflection to decisions, life actions and issues, whether on an intensely personal scale or affecting the world as a whole.  Pretty simple, right?

I implore more people to take this path for two critically important reasons.

First, it can be very easy in an age of technological advancement and communication that borders on magical to be so busy, hassled and frantic to never stop and think.  I am a thinker, but believe me, I fall into this trap at times as well.

Second, I find myself encountering far too man people these days for whom the idea of giving thought to more than one angle of a question is actually a negative.  By way of example, I can think of a few conversations I have had of late where someone would remark, “Ohh, you can’t make up your mind – you would rather keep going back-and-forth…”  Now, if we were talking about what toppings to get on my burger, that’s one thing.  I mean seriously… there really are some delicious accoutrements out there for a delicious slab of grilled ground beef.  Any combination of cheese, bacon, fried egg, grilled onions and avocado will do nicely… umm… sorry.  Burgers distract me.

But the conversations where this point have come up involved more complicated affairs and the seeming lack of interest in thinking about more than one side of a nuanced issue was a bit troubling to me.  I don’t know if it was general impatience or just a predisposition to settling on a narrow viewpoint and holding on tight or just a pitched battle against any shade of gray in a world someone wants to be black and white.

Hence, I urge you to think and to set aside time for thinking (although I admit I am still struggling with that latter suggestion).  It will amaze how you some of your thorniest life issues will unravel a touch when you devote a little time to the endeavor.  And if you find yourself getting a little stuck with a myriad of questions the more you think… just remember it’s possible (and maybe even likely) that you are experiencing it because it is a tricky question.

Dabble in the grays.  There are many… not just 50 shades.

Morning and Clean Sheets of Paper

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but mornings have become something I enjoy quite a bit.  I was never truly a late night party machine to begin withm as any friend of mine reading this will laugh loudly while saying, “Whoooaaaa… big breaking news there…”  I do enjoy quite a bit about the evening time, but for me it’s the winding down feeling I enjoy, not a time to getting buckwild crazy.  For instance, one of my favorite memories is when I used to live along the Connecticut shoreline, I would head down to the beach on a clear night and sit up in one of the lifeguard chairs for a while.  It was just incredibly peaceful to sit there in the darkness, maybe with some moonlight, and watch the waves lap the shore.

I think my fascination with mornings is due to the feeling that with a new day brings the chance for good, new things to happen.  There is always something inherently positive about that in my mind.  Are there mornings where I am decidedly unexcited about what lies in store for me that day?  Oh, hell yes.  Let’s not get ridiculous about this – I am not going to pretend I walk out the door each morning with the figurative bluebirds of happiness chirping upon each of my shoulders.

But there is just the fact that a new day is starting and I have the chance to make of it what I will.  This is the same feeling I have when I sit down in front of a nice, clean sheet of paper.  What will transpire with that paper is completely up to me.  It could be a mundane shopping list or a series of to-do projects requiring my attention.  It could also be a sketch or a frenetic set of ideas I am excited to get down on paper and organize for a blog post, a training program or just some insight that mysterious popped into my noggin.

It’s the promise of it all that fascinates me.  I have talked about potential before here and here, so I think it’s clear that leaving potential unrealized or without effort to achieve is something to avoid… but it still fires my imagination overall.

So as I write this very morning and think more about the good things in life, I am upbeat and ready to get moving a little bit.  OK, that could be the coffee, but it’s more likely the power of mornings.

Here’s to hoping for good things in store today for you.  That big, clean sheet of paper is in front of us all.  Give it something good.

Fierce and Mighty: The Store

Just wanted to add a quick note that based on a bunch of requests, I set up a Fierce and Mighty t-shirt store through Spreadshirt. There is a link at the top of the page (under “Store” – radically innovative, for sure) and a few different selections of shirts to choose from. I will be adding more over time – if anyone has any suggestions, definitely let me know. It’s actually fairly quick to make updates since Spreadshirt does all of the order fulfillment and makes t-shirt design kind of easy. Thanks for all of your support.


The Myth of the Mid-Life Crisis

The idea of a “mid-life crisis” seems to be this generic catch-all to explain any activity undertaken by a 40-55 year old that appears to be driven by a misguided intent to make up for lost time or recapture a fleeting bit of youth before it slips through the fingers like grains of sand.  In an interesting twist, almost every case I can think of someone saying a person is going through a mid-life crisis is describing a man – no idea why that is, but it just popped into my mind.  A person in the aforementioned age range can do a variety of things that will call up the mid-life crisis moniker:

  • Buy a sports car, motorcycle or any other propelled sort of toy
  • Does something different with their appearance (colors hair, grows a goatee, gets a tattoo for the first time, etc.)
  • Takes up some new sort of hobby that comes from seemingly out of nowhere

There are certainly more, but these are some of the more obvious.

And the label of this mid-life crisis always comes from someone looking on with a disapproving shake of their head and an exasperated comment of, “Well, there it is… Bill is going through a mid-life crisis.  Does he realize how ridiculous he is acting?”

Except here’s the problem with all of the above:

I think 99.99% of it is pure, 100% unadulterated crap.  Truly.

I got thinking about this the other day as I inch ever-closer to my latest milestone birthday of 40 (coming up in November, so plenty of time for y’all to get your shopping in now… I like gadgets, golf, reading and anything involving lifting heavy stuff repeatedly).  I am planning on doing some kind of trip with any family and friends who would like to come along, not as much as a celebration of “LOOK AT SUPER COOL 40 YEAR OLD ME!  BOOM!” and more just a nice chance to spend time with those closest to me.  But in all of this thinking, I also know I have been reevaluating things in my own life and what I would like to do these next few years.

Now, I don’t plan on buying a Corvette, getting blonde hair implants and moving to LA to finally live out a dream of acting… but what occurred to me about the typical idea of a mid-life crisis is that while people may make some big changes in that 40-55 year old age range, it has a ton more to do with the perspective and (hopefully) wisdom you gain with time and less to do with chasing lost youth.

Are there people who probably meet the criteria of a stereotypical mid-life crisis?  Of course there are.

But for the most part?  I seriously doubt it.

So a 50 year old guy buys a Porsche and it’s the first time in his life he has had a snazzy car.  Maybe he has realized that he has spent a lifetime scrimping and saving and having his nose to the grindstone and finally found a way to just have some fun.

The 45 year old lawyer who decides to get a tattoo for the first time?  Maybe he is just comfortable enough in his own skin to do something different and has finally hit that point in life where the tsk-tsking opinions of others don’t mean doodly-squat.

Heck, my deciding to grow a beard these last 10 days has been nothing more than a “Why don’t I try it?” kind of thing and not a desperate attempt to be different for the sake of being different.  And let’s face facts – I am one handsome SOB.  Take your time to appreciate this for a few minutes before reading on.  I can wait… it will be well-worth your time.

Photo on 7-9-12 at 7.38 AM

Me in all my handsome, shaggy glory.

The best thing about getting older is the perspective you gain on life and the increasingly clear realization that it is your life, only your life and if you live it solely based on the expectations of others as opposed to being true to thine own self, you will end up bitterly disappointed.

And that’s my view as a guy just south of the big 4-0: Put yourself out there.  Try stuff.  VERY few mistakes are fatal and many can be kind of fun.  You have to answer to only yourself at the end of the day (or your deity of choice if you are a believer).

I am still way less-than-perfect at this kind of thing, but damn… I am trying hard.

The final piece of advice: Don’t go and do anything or buy anything just because you feel it will make you cooler, hipper or anything along those silly lines.  But if it’s something important to you?  Or even just something that would be interesting to give a run?  Godspeed.  We are each figuring this out as we go and it’s that process that means the most in the end.