Friday, May 18, 2012

Wisdom From The Downhill Side Of The Mountain

Turning 59 this year was pivotal for me. I cannot explain why. I have always heard that it usually happens with the big round numbers like 30, 40, 50 or 60. For me, it seems like 59 struck me more than any other year. I have never been a fan of the term mid-life crisis. And 59 is certainly not bringing about any actions on my part that friends and family might call a mid-life crisis. I have always preferred the term life transition instead. I believe that people have used the term mid-life crisis because when someone hits that age that moves them into transition, the outcome of any change is uncertain, leaving those around to be concerned that any changes will dramatically affect the status quo they have become accustomed to for so long.
I drove along the Skyline Drive in Virginia on my way to deliver a Leader As Coach workshop and became attracted to the cement posts that were the mileposts along the way. I decided that when I came upon the #59 milepost I would stop and take a picture as a memento of my 59th year. I was revisiting a place I had not been to since I was a young boy of 7 or 8. As I passed each milepost I got more excited about taking that picture of #59. As I finally came up to this particular post I slowed to a stop, got out of the car and proceeded to take the signature picture I wanted. The most interesting thing about this particular post was that of all the posts I had past so far, this one was the only one that was beat up and worn. How ironic that the one I wanted a picture of looked the most in need of repair!
I then realized how significant this was to me. I snapped several pictures and continued along the drive. No other post was worn like the #59 post. It struck me that it was exactly the way it needed to be. This became a great representation of my life. I came to realize that at 59 years old I was now on the downhill side of the mountain. Also ironic was that the #59 milepost was also on the downhill side of the Skyline Drive. I am almost certain that I do not have another 59 years to go before I have lived out my life.
I have hiked many mountains in my lifetime and reminisced about how I always enjoyed reaching the peak, enjoying the view and then enjoying even more, the walk down the backside. It always has been more enjoyable for me to make the downhill walk versus the uphill climb. I hope that to be true of the downhill side of my life.
I am very passionate about what I do and treasure the fact that I have impacted many lives along the way. I fully expect to impact many more as time goes by. I hope to share the wisdom of climbing the mountain, seeing the summit and enjoying the gradual walk down. And may I continue to learn and grow for whatever number of miles I have left before the trail down the mountain runs out.
Are you passionate about what you are doing with the downhill side of your life? Are you impacting the lives of others? What would a significant life look like for you? What will you do to accomplish that significance before you are done? Maybe you will join me on the walk.