All of us have, or should have, a time in their life when they are faced with determining two big questions.
Who Am I?
What Am I?
And although we place a lot of importance on the answers to these questions, I believe the greater importance is in the search, the pursuit, the way in which we find out the answer. It is easy to just toss off a glib answer, the first thing that comes to mind or to the tip of the tongue, or even a facile self-deprecation or joke. However, no matter what it is that we come to believe, it's the experience and the chase of that answer that will allow us, deep in our hearts, to actually know.
I've always wanted to test myself, try to find limits on my ability to learn, even master, new skills. I've set physical challenges for myself such as running marathons, but I've always felt like there was something out there that would really show my who I am and what I am, but I hadn't met it yet. Still, there is something in me, whispering to me, "challenge yourself, push yourself."
I haven't listened to that voice very much. I had tried some crazy things such as becoming a skydiver, a pilot. I was busy building a professional career, rising through the ranks, and making my way through the corporate jungles out there. Along the way, I took some detours and became an animal trainer, or a scuba instructor but on the whole, my life was actually comfortable and relatively easy.
Now I am turning 57. I'm retired, theoretically. I am sitting here and thinking, which is often a dangerous thing for me to do. I realized that I do not want to go to that last sleep still wondering if I had discovered who I am, what I am capable of, what I am. So what was keeping me from it?
Fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of embarking on something I had no idea where it would take me emotionally and physically. Inertia, too, is part of it. I had my life and it was sliding along reasonably well. I have a wife of 25 years who I am still enriched every day by loving her. It's scary to think of stepping out from that curtain of safety and try something so utterly alien to me.
So I embark on a multi-year journey to try to determine exactly that. Who am I? What Am I?
As there have been people that inspired me along the way, I think that maybe I might "pay it forward" and inspire other people to do the same, especially the people who may be thinking that it's too late in their life to start something big, to take a risk, and to lay things on the line. Maybe I can arrive at the end of this challenge and beckon to you who are queuing up at the starting line, offer a smile, a big wave, and invite you to start your journey.