It’s early. 6am and the family are asleep. Today is my 40th birthday. I sneak out to check the surf, my son has left Maroon 5 on Spotify. The track Sunday morning is a great wake up track. The lyrics are so perfect.
“And back and forth we sway like branches in a storm, change the weather still together, when it ends”… and on it goes… “that may be all I need”…
Nicola had cooked Bacon. The kids had all made me a piece of wall hanging art.
My breakfast marked my embrace of a new chapter. Early on a Friday, we sat in the garden, bacon and eggs, juice, coffee, 3 kids, 1 dog and my lovely partner… this is so perfect.
Short lived perfection; as the routine let’s get to school tradition begins, kids, “get your shoes on, no I haven’t seen your school uniform, its sports day, what are you wearing, Kai, why are you painting, Mia, wait for your brother, no Pip, I cant come to school with you today…”
Remember those lyrics…“back and forth we sway like branches in a storm, change the weather still together when it ends”.
Being alive for forty years has taught me 2 things, how to lean in at the right time and to step aside when it feels right.
Such decisive life stepping and leaning comes from a combination of perspectives, experiences and pressures. I have been an adult for 22 years, my business, the ones that worked and the ones that didn’t, my relationships, the good ones, the bad, the unwavering support from my wife, my friends, my family all help to shape me. For two decades I have worked on building a home, in a place we love, for the people I love and with all the turbulence and emotion of the ups and downs that occur in such a span of time, I feel content. I have failed and succeeded frequently. I have chosen adventure with all its challenges and twists and it has landed me here.
Forty years brings about a certain awareness and efficiency at being oneself.
I have always subconsciously known, that time, hourly, weekly and yearly is a very fucking precious commodity. Time I am not prepared to waste.
So I lean in to the lessons I have learn’t with the confidence that I am brave enough. Brave enough to lean in, brave enough to step aside.
So I lean in… To ageing… I see it in my eyes, feel it in my knees and hold it in my hands everyday. I want to age right, with a glass of red on a Friday night and the odd burger with fries. But as I age, so do my 3 kids, so I need to stay young enough to understand them, but wise enough to let them age too, yet healthy enough to stand beside them as we ride.
So I lean in… To Losing, I am OK with losing, not being elected, overlooked or ignored. I move on fast. If I was being selected for everything, then I am playing life too safe, I don’t want to play it safe. So I pursue opportunities. regardless of result. I hope my kids do to0.
So I lean in… To art (some people call this work). I chose projects, clients and tasks I believe in. That make a difference. This is the time of my life where every minute contributed is valuable to me and someone else.
So I lean in… to being healthy. I surf, I ski, I ride, I walk ,I skate. I stay young in mind by staying healthy. The ocean & the mountains are the worlds greatest playgrounds. They cost nothing and give everything in return. I respect the mountains and the ocean and will continue my relationships with nature. I give my time to both freely as a Ski Patroller and a Surf Life Guard, and I take them in back in memorable moments. I know my kids do too.
So I lean in… to taking risks. I’m not playing it safe. Adventure comes first. It drives me.
So I lean in… to accountability. I don’t need to be asked to help. I can see it when someone needs someone. I know when am wrong. If I need help, I will ask. If I am unsure, you will know. Chances are, I won’t, be, I will make a choice. Right or wrong. Hopefully right.
So I lean in… to saying no as often as I say yes. In the future, unrealistic expectations with be met with a no.
I step aside… I know nothing in the future, is as important as the time I have already committed to now. I wont change a date for you, if I have committed it to someone else. Ever.
I step aside… I don’t join committees.
I step aside… From takers. Time wasters.
I step aside… I don’t follow you. I join, I partner, I learn, but I don’t follow.
So I lean in… To the stories I tell myself about the things that are happening in my life. Nothing but the truth, in black and white. I will ask for help. I will not sit in silence wondering.
I appreciate the things in my life that offer the simplest pleasures, my friends, my family. Everyone I love is healthy and alive and in the future that will change, but for now, I have battled enough set backs and demons to know, that when it shifts, I know how to find my way through. My mum has taught me that.
Until then, I will lean in when it counts, step aside when it doesn’t, make my life choices as an individual, as a dad, as a husband, as a son, as a business owner, as a volunteer and as a friend. Because at forty, they are the things that shape me. As back and forth we sway like branches in a storm, change the weather still together… when it ends.
That may be all I need.