Many, Many Candles

Part of this year's twenty. Geez, I'm getting old.

It’s birthday season, and that is always a dangerous time for me.  Not only is there the fire hazard, there is the potential for the Crisis to rear its ugly, balding head. You know exactly what I mean.  Men look at each birthday as a yardstick, measuring where we are in life against where our friends are, where our colleagues are, or—most dangerous of all—where we thought we would be by now.   I’m sure it’s the same for women, only worse because of the estrogen.

The closer I got to 40, the twitchier I became.  My career, my finances, my husbanding and parenting skills—none was where I wanted it to be.  Go back and read my post “Welcome to My Midlife Crisis” to get the full, pathetic picture.  Then I came up with a brilliant idea that failed miserably.  It was called “40X40.” Essentially, this was a list of forty things I wanted to accomplish before turning forty.  Sort of a bucket list without the annoying death part.  The list would give me focus, and direction, and drive.  It would turn me into the man I had always known I was supposed to be, but wasn’t.  It would also earn me millions of dollars, which was item 8 on the list.

It failed because I’m so stinking human, and because I didn’t come up with the list until a few months before my 40th birthday, and because my expectations were brutally unrealistic.  I kind of shot myself in the foot, which was not on the list, although “Become Proficient with Firearms” was.

“40X40” was successful in a couple of ways, though.  The process caused me to start thinking in terms of solutions instead of problems.  It also got me moving, and gave me some direction.

The process isn’t over, either.  As I sail farther and farther away from the land of 40, I find that I am still accomplishing things from the list.  This blog, for example.  It’s not shaking the world—yet—but it is getting written.  I’ve been talking about writing for years, annoying friends and family with “Someday” and “If only.”  Now I’m doing it, and that’s something.

I’ve learned three great lessons from this baby blog. (I’m a teacher—we always teach in three’s).  What I’ve learned is not earth shattering, but is valuable nonetheless.  I will share these things with you if you wish.  If you don’t want to hear it, go read some of my other posts.  Just stay on my site for a while longer, if you please…I’m trying to get the numbers up. Thanks.

Thing the First: Do something.  I’ll pause for a few moments to let that sink in.  Now I shall repeat it for maximum effect. Do something.

You see, I know this about you…there is something you want to do, but you’re not doing it.  It would be a good, honorable thing to do, and you would do it well, but you’re not doing it. You have all kinds of reasons for not doing it; some of them are pretty strong.  It has been said by others, and now by me, that it isn’t the weak, lame, loserly excuses you have to fear—it’s the good, strong, legitimate ones.  I had great reasons for not starting this blog—reasons you would recognize from your own life.  The problem is, when all is said and done, the good excuses keep you from your goal just as surely as the silly ones.  Eventually, you simply have to take the step.

Thing the Second: Identify the problem, and take steps to fix it.  I hear a very Jr. High sounding, “No Duh!” coming through the computer right about now.  I agree, it isn’t earth-shattering novelty—but it is truth.  My biggest problems in starting a blog were the lack of tech savvy and terminal inertia.  God brought along a mentor to show me the magic of sending forth my words into the digital darkness, and to provide the occasional kick in the pants.  God brought the man, but I had to ask for the help.

Thing the Third: I’m warning you, this is going to be really obvious. Ready? O.K.  Do what you like to do.  I warned you it was obvious, so don’t get frustrated with me.  Here’s the thing; I wanted to write, and I wanted to write about my life, and how God was working in it, and the things I’ve learned from my many years of oopses.  That produces a blog that, in case you haven’t noticed, is a bit random.  The experts I’ve read say that this is not the recipe for a successful blog.  But it’s what I want to do.  So it’s what I’m doing.  It may not be successful in the world, but it is fulfilling its purpose in me.

I struggle every day to be the husband, the father, the man I want to be, and to live a life worthy of the calling I have received.  But this is also true: for the first time in many years, the prospect of another candle on the cake does not fill me with dread, but with anticipation.

That’s progress.



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Many, Many Candles — 3 Comments

  1. Such an encouraging post!! 🙂 Please keep up the consistent posting; we are reading!! I read your blog because: “it isn’t earth-shattering novelty—but it is truth.” Thank you for sharing TRUTH in this postmodern world. 🙂 It is quite refreshing!!

  2. Keep on truckin’. I am totally into the “40×40” concept, but right now I would probably be doing pretty well to pull off the “anything at all by the end of the week.” I am kind of obsessed with the idea of doing stuff right now, today, instead of waiting around for some unknown and intentionally nebulous appropriate starting point. The trick is always to get beyond the idea and into the doing.

    • I hear you. Procrastination is an art I spent 40 years perfecting; now I have to undo all my fine work. Right now I’m at about “14 X 44,” but I’m still moving.

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