Perhaps it's because i haven't (yet?) attained some of the more outsized goals i had as a younger man... i'm sure to some extent that's true. I'd hate to think i ever "settled" for a lesser version of the younger me's dreams. But as you grow older, it's perhaps inevitable the gap between reality and desire closes one way or another.
And for those who at one time entertained thoughts of playing professional sports, founding a hugely successful company, becoming a grammy-winning rockstar, or winning a Nobel prize -- well, one day you may wake up and discover you're not quite the Michael Jordan you once thought. As the years pass, most folks either rationalize their achievements or downsize their goals. Very few choose to live with the actual gap, and the dissonance & dissatisfaction that may come from not changing the goal or the goalposts.
I still consider myself young at heart, but i'll be turning 40 this year. While i hope to end up a very old man someday, it's sobering to realize that by some projections my life could already be half over. Makes you wonder about the road you've been traveling, the map you've been following. Is there a greener destination ahead somewhere, or should i just be enjoying the journey? What's really important to me, material success or just spiritual enlightenment? In short: what will it take for me to be happy with the time i've spent breathing in the air?
Obviously these aren't simple questions, nor are they likely to have short or simple answers. But i do know that both questions & answers are a good bit different from 20 years ago when i was in college. I still have dreams of founding another company, of doing what i can to change the world for the better, but i also have more straightforward goals of raising a family and spending time with my wife & son -- hell, these days i'm pretty happy if i manage to get out & play a little ultimate frisbee and come home without an injury ;) Still, i hope some of my loftier aspirations haven't been completely downgraded. And perhaps i can say i've made a bit of progress towards a few of them. But being honest with yourself about where you started & where you stand isn't always an easy task.
This morning i happened across this piece about Allen Iverson. Like many men who border on "short" (with the right hat, i tell people i'm 5' 9"), i sometimes have a bit of a chip on my shoulder. When i play sports i probably try a bit too hard to show i'm just as good as the guys a few inches taller, and i pride myself on playing well and without fear. Guys like Iverson and Steve Nash have always been an inspiration to me, simply because they compete with other NBA players who might be a foot taller and outweigh them by more than 100 lbs. Yet they're stil fearless, even dominant at times. But this piece told a different story about Iverson, one that explains him getting better with age -- not to mention approaching the game with a different attitude, even a different set of values. What's interesting is that he describes much of the change in his perspective coming from his relationship with his kids, and how he would like that relationship to be in the future. I think maybe i'm starting to understand what that's about.
So i hope i'm making progress towards my goals, and also that i haven't reset those goalposts too much from when i was younger. And i do hope i've gotten a little better at the game i've chosen to play -- that is, entrepreneurship. But perhaps most importantly, i think i've started to realize i'm not just playing for myself anymore... i'm playing for a team called "family". And perhaps playing the game well is just as important as winning. Actually, scratch that -- playing well *is* winning.
well time to wrap up all this sappy introspection. i just heard the halftime buzzer, and i think i need to help change a diaper. see ya on the court...