Riding the Wave of Change
There is a period of time in all of our lives where we ride the wave until we reach the top of our game. It is here we feel our purpose – strong, motivated and excited by all that is possible. It is in this moment time can seem endless, yet we move at a fast clip because our dreams are still in front and we are moving towards them. It’s considered the prime of life, and it may be the pinnacle of our career, an athletic pursuit, or reaching a peak in sexual drive and personal edge. Whatever form it takes, our energy is focused and we are driven by an inner desire to climb high.
How long we stay at this pinnacle is different for everyone and will depend on our stamina, inner drive and, to some degree, pure luck. At some point we will inevitably begin to descend, which may be gradual in speed, or crushing in force like a wave on the shore. Ironically, it’s often the splash that actually wakes us up. It’s best if we can take an intentional look at this second half and plan ahead to prepare for the inevitable change that is certain to happen. In my circle, we are now standing on the edge looking over and this is what everyone is talking about: hip replacements, knee surgery, cancer, fused disks, shifts in interest and even a lack of desire to ask our bodies to return to where we once were, physically. As we each embrace this adjustment, we inherently start to ask some bigger questions.
I happen to hang out with a lot of extreme athletes – people I know through ice climbing, mountaineering in Alaska, kayaking class five rivers, ski patrolling in Aspen and teaching survival skills in Antarctica. I have been on an exhilarating ride and I have felt my heartbeat with the aliveness of challenge, learned to quell my fears and felt the elation of accomplishment. I have made peace with my mortality having walked to the edge, pushed my limits and knowingly flirted with death. My friends are warriors – some have passed in pursuit of their dream, others have peered into the abyss and returned to tell about it. At some point our experiences will no longer define who we are; instead, they turn into the fabric of who we’ve become.
It’s no wonder this counterculture of adventurers struggle with the meaning of life once they sit down to rest. There will always be a stirring in an adventurer’s heart, a restlessness in the soul – and aliveness may never feel quite as alive again. Yet this part of life is the top of the wave and this is the summit. It is here where life gets real and it is now the adventurer will have to learn to dig even deeper. Adversity and challenge is the essence of any moment and it is here we must find ourselves again. In other words, it may be time to redefine our sense of purpose.
I had the foresight to ask myself some of these bigger questions before the wave crashed and I severely broke my shoulder bodysurfing three years ago. In my forties, I sensed that my true challenge was going to be replacing my passions and I started to search for new meaning beyond where my body can take me. Now, as a life coach, I have a renewed sense of purpose; I want to help my fellow adventurers and friends navigate the road ahead with a feeling of new discovery and joy. Helping others to shine is what I am called to do, it gives me vitality and a deep sense of inspiration, perhaps even more than some of my summits!
Here are some useful things to pack for this journey:
- Acceptance - find peace and don't cling to what was, keep looking forward to a positive future.
- Purpose - explore what moves you and touches your heart, and act accordingly.
- Spirituality - take the journey inward, live your highest values and touch something larger than yourself.
- Connection - develop and maintain meaningful relationships with old friends, family and new acquaintances. Find new ways to share your passions together. Become and active member of the community around your interests.
- Service - look for ways to help others, perform random acts of kindness, daily - not just once a year at the local fundraiser. Smile at people.
- Nature - get outside, discover new ways to find solitude and appreciate your surroundings. Be present.
Change can be challenging unless you decide it doesn't have to be. It's up to you to redefine your paradigm for the second half of this adventure - be supportive, dig deeper and reach out in ways you never imagined. There will always be an element of risk and exploration because the farther you go, the more unknown and exciting the terrain remains in front of you. Your adventurous spirit will come in handy and every experience will become a metaphor that has prepared you for this very moment.