Sunday, 20 April 2008

Thirty



I'm a couple days past thirty. Usually I let my birthday come and go with very little mention, but I did make a point of bringing it up in conversation this year, it's a bit of a novelty. I've made it through what has been, statistically, 1/3 of my life.

That's not too bad, it means I've got 2/3 to go. Here's a little ramble, those with more wisdom of years can steer me straight next time they see or chat with me, I'd appreciate it.

Health. Well this one's always the biggie. I live in a society where everything gives me cancer, or so says the news. I bet reading the paper is cancerous too, probably double if it's read online, and triple if it's from a BlackBerry. But for now I'm healthy. I drink alcohol infrequently and in less quantity than virtually everyone I know who isn't a teetotaler. I eat vegetables, although often it's at a desk out of a cardboard box. My waistline doesn't give the mortality tables much ammunition. My blood is free of grease as per cholesterol tests last year. I'm going to take the blissfully ignorant view that I'm fine on the health side, which will be 100% true until "something happens".

Health offshoot - fitness. Interestingly enough, it doesn't seem like I've peaked yet, by at least some measures of fitness. If average power sustained over a 10 kilometer indoor time trial by bicycle is any measure of note, I'm as fit as I've ever been. My body has never been able to take in more oxygen, pump more blood, and deliver it to my pumping legs at a higher sustained level for 15 minutes before. So those systems are ok. Posture and flexibility I do take for granted as I'm pretty decent, but I'm working on both intermittently. The remainder of my strength is core, my upper body is cycling-skinny. I'm fine with that for now. Frankly there's nothing I enjoy more than exploring the limits of my exertion and stamina. It's fun to explore the light headed space of extreme exertion - although it feels like my heart is about to explode, it never does. It just comes back stronger. Although my legs may feel on fire, knotting in cramps, and ache walking up stairs, they only know one response - to return with more strength and stamina. I can say without a doubt I haven't yet executed even a third of the pedal rotations these legs will perform in this lifetime.

Family and relationships. I think both of these are ticking along fine... and maybe that's the problem. It's relieving to be able to take the moral support that comes from those nearby for granted, it makes you feel like you don't need to worry about it. But taking it for granted isn't the ideal scenario either. Mom and dad are always there, and are anchors of support that don't sway with which way the tide is moving. Tori and I frankly don't see each other enough... it seems more often than not our work, travel and hobby schedules are polar opposite. I think that should be worked on. I like watching Tori, she battles her demons, strives towards her goals, and does so with a bee like buzz that makes me happy to watch. She worries about a lot of little things (flower garden), but doesn't worry about the big decisions. A critic might call it blissful ignorance, I think it's a little nearer to human optimism. My suspicion is that "inverse" trait probably correlates to her success. Tori proves you can be a leader/manager/deal doer/protege/baron during the day, yet still have a teddy bear on your side of the bed at night.

Friends Part 1: I keep in touch with all my "original" friends, I guess schoolmates might be a better term. We're all achievers, which makes me happy to see and be a part of. With my two time consuming pursuits (work and cycling), I take their presence for granted often too. Many of us work in Calgary, but many have moved. I know I shouldn't take it for granted. It's something to work on (for all of us?). Many are already or are getting married. Not that my opinion or approval matters, but I think they've all found really nice partners. Seeing them happy makes me happy. The kids are pretty sparse still though!

Friends Part 2: The other chapter of my friends are people who ride bikes. They range in age from low 20's to 50's. To say they're driven achievers is an understatement, it's an inspiring group to be surrounded by. I like nothing more than feeling like a kid when riding and racing with the gang - I used to phone up my 7 year old friends and say "wanna go biking", and in the 23 years that have passed, not much has changed. In some ways they're more than friends - they're mirrors who help me see deeper into myself, and they're idols because they inspire me to reach for more. They're also living symbols - every time I see a person on a bike, it's like seeing the needle that threads the fabric of my being together.

Ok, we need to address bikes. Bikes, biking, racing, breathing... it's who I am. A courier riding by on the street or a friend pulling up into my driveway can in seconds take my mind off the mundane and turn it to daydreaming of what can be, what it all means to over exert the body and have it come back stronger. Sometimes I ride alone and enjoy the peace, solitude, opportunity for thought. Sometimes we ride in groups, and usually that means drag racing all night long. Sometimes I race alone, and set outcome goals for myself. Often I race in teams, where the end result seems so far off, but it's the minute by minute process to be enjoyed. It's a great window into character to push one another to the brink of your physical capability side by side for a week, feels like you really get to know someone by the end of it ; ) All I can say here is I want to keep the good times rolling, and rolling fast, as long as I possibly can. More of the world should ride bikes more often. Is it right that Calgary takes up as much area as New York City yet has 1/8th the people? Does that make sense? Do we need to spread ourselves out that thin, thereby burdening ourselves with the upkeep cost of all that infrastructure, not to mention the transportation time commitments we then make? High costs lead to lower returns in the long run. Doesn't bode well for a Calgary on a long municipal scale, we're one of worst in North America for sprawl (anti-concentration ratios)... but I digress.

Work. My line of work is pretty dynamic and interesting, there aren't any limits to the amount of thought that can be applied to finance. It's a great window through which to see the world. Can't complain about my firm or the people I work with, it's a group of ultra achievers in an industry that demands it... which is probably the only drawback. True rest, which in my words is mental disengagement from work for periods of time, is a pretty scarce commodity in the business of finance focused on the largest world commodities. I've been doing a sun up to sun down gig from my first summer job at 15-16 to the present. Layer in on top of that 2 university degrees, that whole CFA ordeal, and a primary hobby that can consume time and energy resources endlessly, and it's been pretty busy phase. That might need some tweaking. I'm not one for setting timelines arbitrarily, but if I'm still doing this pace when I'm 40, tap me on the shoulder and tell me to smarten up. Need a tad more sunshine and a little less fluorescent lighting overall during this next decade.

Work 2/finance/economics. Work is necessary for achievement, feeling needed and useful, and... I guess a guy needs to earn a few beer tokens to carry around in the wallet too. I seem to be pre-programmed to count numbers, and evaluate the economy of consuming them now versus later (not to mention "loaning" them out to people who have ideas on how a single dollar can be made into more over time). Having said that, I've backfilled enough of the pile I'll need this lifetime that as each year passes, I don't pay quite as much attention to the minutiae. I have to admit this is a luxury I quite enjoy. I can afford Apple computers, which cost more but are beautiful. I can afford trips, which are enriching beyond dollars. I can afford several bikes, so when it's winter I ride one, or when one needs fixing there's alway another. But in all honesty, what I'm really buying are two invisible commodities - free time and lack of financial worry. Some are born with a lack of financial worry, and since I wasn't one of them, I have to purchase it. The free time will find it's way to my doorstep in due course. There aren't other categories of things that I feel compelled to trade my capital/time/skill/knowledge tokens for. By the way, if we referred to money as "capital/time/skill/knowledge tokens", I think society would become more judicious with expenditure overnight.

Cheating stinks, and I'm happy to say I never feel compelled to, in a hobby that seems brings it out of everyone who goes pro. I think I had a cortisone based cream for scrapes or... uhh... uncomfortable saddle situation at one point, and I'm sure I'd test positive for that, but cheating is a line of morality not technicality, despite what the press says.

I could use more pets, the absence of animals is something I think about pretty often. I could use a family at one point, but I'm not planning to rush things.

Appearance. I do shave every day, but that's highly related to my white collar job. I don't think I've had a comb to my head since the mid 1990's. I still have vanity, which is funny to write, but it isn't the "usual" kind. I want to be seen as fit and strong, not a desk jockey couch potato. I buy relatively nice office clothes, but I put very little effort into deciding which combos to wear. Clean? Yes. Does it clash? No. Good. I enjoy being unburdened by an overwhelming concern over my appearance. I still have shirts I wear from grade 8. For the record that's about half my life ago. On the bike I find this year's deadgoat team kit to be pretty darn snazzy, makes us look good out on the road. Now that's important!

There's a few bits of thought, and I'll stop for now as this is pretty long. Nothing really to complain about these days!

8 comments:

  1. Great post!
    I tempted to steal it, change a few personal details and use it for myself!
    Does your new MAC have some ability to tap into my head and suck my thoughts out through osmosis and put it on paper better than I could?

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  2. If I can figure out how to steal thoughts through the Mac, I could retire!

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  3. Sounds like the first 30 have been pretty good to you (or you've been pretty good to them)...

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  4. Hello. This post is likeable, and your blog is very interesting, congratulations :-). I will add in my blogroll =). If possible gives a last there on my blog, it is about the GPS, I hope you enjoy. The address is http://gps-brasil.blogspot.com. A hug.

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  5. Happy belated 30th Eric! I remember how much I hated my 30th--almost as much as my 40th! It's nice that you're in a good place at 30. Maybe it's a guy thing! Guys don't seem to let those milestone birthdays get to you. Turns out my 30s were my best years so I hope they're the best for you!! You certainly had a productive and exciting 20s so if 30s are better then you're in for a real treat! Enjoy :-)

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