A TI swimmer friend of mine heard me speak last fall and recommended that I read Haruki Murakami‘s book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

I did read it recently and loved it. You might also.

In this following passage from that book Murakami is describing his thoughts as a 60-something marathon runner being passed up by pretty, young college girls on the running paths.

“Still, it’s pretty wonderful to watch these pretty girls run. As I do, I am struck by an obvious thought: One generation takes over from the next. This is how things are handed over in this world, so I don’t feel so bad if they pass me. These girls have their own pace, their own sense of time. And I have my own pace, my own sense of time. The two are completely different, but that’s the way it should be.” p.94

The perspective he shared resonates with me. Indeed, time flows in a different pattern for me now than it did 20 years ago. It flows in a different pattern than any 20 year old’s sense of time and priority.

I am strong, though not with the same kind of intensity I had back then. My strength doesn’t recharge quite as quickly as it used to, but instead it is more precise, more focused than it ever was. My mind and heart are in much better shape, much more resilient to disappointment, more hopeful despite, and more adaptable to change than they were then. I am more ready than ever to take on challenges and causes I never could have handled with less experience, with less perspective, with less life-tested courage.

Aging offers an exchange. Physically, I may give up brute strength but I am gaining finer neurological control. Mentally, I may pay opportunity costs to finally choose a few things to invest my attention into, but I am gaining fluency and expertise in these realms. Spiritually, I may not be going around taste-testing new loves, yet I am now drinking finely aged wine with the one I’ve pledged my heart to. It’s taken years to grow this vineyard and learn how to extract such exquisite flavors.

This exchange in life is not a disappointment. It has provided me with the opportunity to produce greater things, to gain the potential to make a much greater contribution to myself and to others.

Now, more than ever, my body has better control. My mind has much better focus. My heart has much more stable peace. If I must lose some strength to aging, it’s an exchange I gladly make.

I am a year from 40 today, that time when many joke that life is half-over. No way. My life is not half-over, half-decayed and heading downhill from here. No, it’s still just getting started and only getting better. It is going that way because I choose to write my part in life that way.

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