Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Scared of Turning 30: Part 1

Four months ago when I turned 29 the realization that I have one year left in my 20s hit me. And it scares me. I have the tendency to focus on the problems and the negative more than the positive. Not that I am unusual in that regard, most people can hear nine complements and one complaint and most of us seem to focus on the one complaint. So I'm starting a series, that I will only publish after I have moments of reflection, or fear, or elation, related to turning 30 in nine months, in other words, randomly. For starters, this post is prompted by listening to Talk by Coldplay, from the album X&Y. I bought that CD in Taos, New Mexico in late summer 2005 on a day off from Philmont with my friend Scott. He bought the Gorillaz CD that day and I also bought Kelly Clarkson's debut CD that day. I remember listening to them on the rainy 75 minute drive back to camp that afternoon. That was ten years ago.

I spent four wonderful summers at Boy Scout camp in the mountains of New Mexico and Colorado in 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2010. I will probably never work a summer camp job again. I often had a bit of a chip on my shoulder because I did not have an engineering job. I would not say I took those jobs for granted, or that I did not take advantage of the opportunities in the mountains. On the contrary, I climbed so many mountains and routes those four summers! I think part of me just always envisioned that the summer rhythm of days off in the mountains, evenings sitting on the porch or around the fire, the physical satisfaction of a long day, and the simplicity of summer camp in the mountains would continue. That is not how most of the world works.

I've done a lot, but thinking of summer camp and turning 30 there is much I have not done.
  • I have not climbed an 8000 meter peak, despite two attempts.
  • I have not climbed any big wall in Yosemite, despite three attempts.
  • I have not run a sub 2:30 marathon, despite three attempts.
  • Never really had a serious romantic relationship.
  • Only a one time national champion. 
  • I've never owned a house. 
  • I've never owned a car less than 12 years old.
People are going to read this and think it's ridiculous. "Isaiah, you're crazy! You made it to 7000 meters on an 8000 meter peak in a year no one climbed that mountain! You attempted three big walls in Yosemite, and made it 500 feet up El Cap solo! You ran 2:30:20 for a marathon!" Yes, I know all of this, but it doesn't seem like enough. My personality is such that I always seem to want more. I want the absolute best out of myself, and when I do not feel like I am getting that, it's frustrating. 

On top of this, as I get older there creeps in a fear that I will be alone. My dating life has been so nonexistant the vast majority of the time that I don't really even know how to date. Thank you Boy Scout camp, private engineering school, 8000 meter expeditions, and working at an engineering company. I just don't know many women. I'm great at first dates, I just rock them, but after that it seems to fall apart so quickly. I'm picky, she's picky, we're just not right for each other. My fear is I will wake up tomorrow and be 35 or 40 without a prospective life partner. At that age having children can be a challenge. And I want to expose my kids to the world, take them on crazy vacations, climb mountains, teach them all I know so they have the opportunity to be even better than I. Of course, one has to have kids first.

The upside is I can do so much positive in the world as a single person. In other words, instead of focusing on a small number of my own children, and one woman, I can potentially help hundreds or thousands of less fortunate people. I have to look for something positive in this because the fear of being alone is very real fear. In fact, I have a pending meeting with Jordan from South Sudan right now, and helping South Sudan as it continues to go through a civil war is very near and dear to my heart. Starting a country is hard.

Don't let any of this negativity detract from me saying "I have the best life in the world" because I do have the best life in the world. I am blessed. I hope that others think the same thing of their own lives.  God has given me so much that it overwhelms me sometimes when I realize how well I have it. I've accomplished more in my life than many people do in their whole lives. Of course, I've lived over 29 years, which is longer than many people, and I've had a few chances to die.
Everest is the black thing above me.
Turning 30 years old scares me. The relentless march of time never ceases. It's a reminder of what I have not done. Instead of a celebration of the amazing life I have lived it depresses me. It reminds me of my failure. The times I have looked up and decided to turn around instead of pushing on, the times I have gone as hard as I can but not fast enough, the things I have done wrong, and the people I have wronged...

What does the future hold? I don't know. Who knows, I might not make 30. I believe in fate, that what happens to us happens for a reason, although we rarely understand it at the time. It gives me comfort to know that all of this is happening for my benefit, according to the God's perfect plan. While I worry about the future, I don't need to, it's not worth the effort. In the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." 

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