This year I turned 35. The 30s is a decade of life where a lot happens. For me it’s been marriage, mortgage, and baby. I think it’s important to consciously reflect on who you are, what you are doing, where you are spending your time, who you are spending your time with, and more, at regular intervals and especially at times which hold significance—like birthdays or New Years or anniversaries.
Here are some thoughts I have at this particular milestone of life.
The Use of Computers and the Escape of Time
I’ve grown up with computers and they are an incredible tool. Now we have handheld computers. At times, I notice my computer behavior destroys free time or prevents more awareness. I’ve observed myself casually turning on my phone to check email or Facebook and not remember much of what I’ve seen or why I was doing it—much like you might check a watch automatically. These are behaviors I want to modify and change.
Over a decade at a desk has impacted my posture. One of my major training goals is to work on my posture. I am doing face the wall squats, windmills, hamstring and hip flexor stretches, and making sure to get up often from my desk frequently to avoid slumping over my work. I do a shoulder/chest opening stretch every morning before getting in the shower. It’s helping.
Starting in 2006, I noticed a patch of dry skin around my solar plexus. This dry skin went away in humid Huatulco, Mexico, but persists in winter and sometimes the skin on my face gets flared up during allergy season. Sugar seems to exacerbate this. I’ve reduced my sugar intake and significantly modified my diet after I had gout in August 2012. The dry skin persists and now I am looking towards grains and coffee (very drying and acidic) as culprits. Although it’s not manly, I have also been using lotion, especially in winter.
I miss the days of youth where people would ring doorbells. We have that a little bit in our neighborhood and it is nice. I think that we get caught up in our houses with all these comforts and then don’t reach out as much. This is something I’d like to work on.
Time is a factor. With a baby at home, I have less of it, but I can creatively get together with people I care about by training with them or eating breakfast or lunch with them. Relationships have changed as I’ve transitioned from enjoying alcohol to being disgusted about how much our culture encourages mindless consumption. Intoxicant use can have an impact on friendships. I’m OK with that.
I can get sidetracked and overly focused on work. Whether my main bread and butter job or the stuff I do on the side. In either case, this impacts my relationship with my wife and I have to watch it. There is only so much mental bandwidth and when all-consuming thoughts about work leave out the most important relationship in your life, problems can’t help but surface.
I am largely fulfilled by my work and enjoy it. I am blessed to work with high quality and caring people who aren’t blame casters when people make mistakes, but instead work to help correct them. The building I work in is modern and well-designed. I think there is an increasing understanding that it’s not how much time your ass occupies a seat but it’s whether you do your job and move your role forward.
When I was taking online training from Steve Maxwell, he would frequently say, “It’s all mental.” I think I’ve come a long way this year and the last year in identifying my mental mistakes. Things that I would think, things I would say, that reflected limiting beliefs created by none other than myself. These beliefs are self-fulfilling prophecies and without awareness, your life is ruled by habits and ancient, unquestioned beliefs.
My training is movement-based and I select exercises that fall into those movement patterns. I make sure to perform at least one exercise per movement pattern each week at an intensity of 6-8. I don’t work out longer than 40 minutes per session, and not more than two hours per week.
One thing that could improve is more focus on endurance training. Lately I have been jumping rope and doing swings in a repeating circuit. I also go for jogs about once or twice a month. This is mainly to retain movement capacity.
Retaining Movement Capacity
Nortin Hadler, an MD out of North Carolina talks about exercise as a means of preventing decrepitude. It’s a good idea, but I put a positive spin on it—I’m retaining movement capacity of youth. With a focus on movements and not muscles, my movement quality is pretty good, especially for a writer who writes for a living (that’s a lot of sitting). I am close to side splits and I don’t have any restrictions or pain.
I don’t have any specific goals other than to retain movement capacity of youth and stay strong. There is this whole SMART thing that people like to throw around, but it’s not required. Stuart Briscoe, a preacher in his 80’s—who still continues to travel the globe—says he has no goals. He allows himself to be guided. At times I will pursue high strength in pull ups or deadlifts. Or many reps in the squat. But for the most part, training is its own reward and the discipline required to stay consistent carries over into all aspects of life. I allow myself to be guided, and right now with a 7-month old, I’m guided to make sure I’m flexible and get up and off the floor easily, and have a strong back.
Understanding My Body
People will say to me “Oh, you can afford to eat that” all the time. Especially when it comes to sugar. The truth is, I can’t. In fact, I’ve had gout. People say I’m blessed with a high metabolism. The reality is, if I don’t exercise and eat too much, I gain weight. Genetics is a crutch and I don’t put any special emphasis on it. My advantages are someone else’s weaknesses and my weaknesses are someone else’s advantages.
In one of Bruce Lee’s interviews, he talked about a problem where people try to copy other people instead of developing their Self. Your body is unique—embrace it. So many people try to fight their body instead of embracing it. Certain kinds of training destroy my body. Certain kinds make me strong. My task is to figure out what is best for me to get the results I want (youthful movement capacity and abundant strength). Some people will never be as thin as I am. I won’t be as strong as others. Why should I try to force things.
Genetics is outside of your locus of control. Focusing on things you can’t control is futile—and wasteful. Genetics can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Both of my parents are thin. Does that mean they have good eating habits or good genetics? My dad’s dad was overweight and a drunk. My dad made a decision to be better. I modeled their behavior. Nurture? Nature? I might never know for sure and it doesn’t matter. All that matters is growth—the growth of a soul.
Understanding My Behavior
There’s a microbiologist named Dean Hamer who says that what we’re born with are temperamental traits, but we can change them through the exercise of something called character. We all have proclivities, problems, and areas where we’re lacking in strength or courage. Training, proper training, helps you figure out who you are.
Age, Associations, the Mind and the Spirit
I’ve mentioned genetics (nature) and nurture. Some people grew up in families with an alcoholic dad and a mom who was trying to cope. Some came from poor families in grocery store deserts—where the only food sources were fast or convenient. All these circumstances can be transcended to varying degrees depending on your understanding. The person who expects to feel great at 35 probably does. The person who expects to begin his downward slide probably is.
The limit we’ve placed on longevity in America averages out to around 78 years old. In articles discussing extreme long age possibilities, I’ve seen it acknowledged that this is something many people don’t want—life for them is not enjoyable enough to live longer. Many of these things mentioned have nothing to do with any physical component but a mental and a spiritual one.
We are programmed by the TV we watch, the people we associate with, and patterns and beliefs held by the human race. These things are not easily or unintentionally transcended. But transcended they must be if we are to make any progress that is worthwhile.
I always wonder when I like something, when I want something, when I do something—from whence does this come? Is it me? Or is it culture? Are people born racists or are they indoctrinated? I choose to believe that we are all intrinsically Good, and that it is up to each one of us to discover that within ourselves. Today, we are competitive with each other, cunning, and sometimes uncooperative—cutthroat. We complain about government spying, but can’t restrain ourselves from peering at a nearby computer screen to see what someone is looking at. Or we listen intently to other people’s gossip. The scope of work ahead for each of us is immense. These are the things which must be transcended individually for there to be any collective benefit. It won’t come from above, it must come from below.
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As I enter decade number 3.5, these are my thoughts. Hopefully you’re thinking about who you are, what you are doing, where you are spending your time, who you are spending your time with, and more, at regular intervals and especially at times which hold significance—like birthdays or New Years or anniversaries. It’s good for ya!