29 Jun

How exciting is it to be the next person in line? The anticipation and anxiety builds in a crescendo until it’s finally my turn! I’ve waited long enough. I’ve paid my dues. I’ve put in the work. I am ready. I am more than ready!

And so it is for many things in life. High school, then college graduation. In our day-to-day: the checkout line at the store or getting the car registered at the department of transportation. The promotion at work. Getting married. Having your first child. Finally paying off the mortgage. For all the major milestones, we put in the work and time until it’s finally our turn. And then we celebrate!

When hiking a long trail, after weeks (or months) of knocking off big miles every day, the hard days, the days filled with overwhelming joy, and through it all, eventually it’s my turn. When the only thing left is reaching the terminus; it’s right up ahead; I am now, more than ever, with every cell in my body, full of purpose and focused intent. I catalog every step in my mind. I am filled with every conceivable emotion, bursting with energy and commitment. I am immensely grateful for so many reasons beyond explanation. It’s a wave that comes over me that I can’t express in words as I approach that instant when it is finally my turn. My hand touches the terminus marker with a sense of final determination. I did it! 

With every one of these “it’s my turn” moments in life, after the height of the achievement no matter how big or small, we inevitably ask ourselves: “Was it worth it?” When we put everything required of us to get there on one side of the scale. And on the other side of the scale we put our rewards. Which way will the scale tip? Was it worth everything we went through to get the rewards during our journey and finally at the end?

As I’m walking this rock into my second hand full of decades and thinking more frequently about my mortality – everyone does - about the final “it’s my turn” event; the “Was it worth it?” gets real. It’s tangible, much deeper and heavier than any other, as it should be. A great hike is awesome, a great life is on a whole different level. 

One could fill the answer to this question with a list of regrets and all the “I should have’s” that attempt to pile on that side of the scale and consume us when we take our life’s inventory. But, why? We know we can’t change the past. There is no backspace or undo button here. Don’t bother looking for it. These things don’t need you to give them any more weight than they already have. Dwelling on all that is a complete waste of the very limited time we have in our final approach to the terminus for which we’ve taken every step toward since our first breath. Going negative now has no positive outcome. Don’t do it. Don’t give in to it. Don’t allow others to take you there.

Speaking of time: in most of the life milestones mentioned earlier, we can’t wait to get there; time can’t go fast enough. It’s exciting. We celebrate the day and we look forward to the next one. But for this last turn, it’s much different. We don’t want it to come too fast. We’re not cheering it on. Many of us don’t feel ready for it. We want everything to slow down a bit. The kids and grand kids are growing up too fast. Time seems to go exponentially faster with age. It’s like some sort of quantum science thing we can’t explain. 

There’s nothing we can do about how time works. And we know that we can’t control it. In fact, we’re not really in control of much, ever. As hard as some of us try to control our world, we eventually come to realize, it is and always has been in God’s hands. We’re not powerless, but we’re definitely not the final decision maker either.

So then, what can we do? There’s one thing: we can be intentional. Our next step can always be on purpose, no matter our age or situation. We can put our mind and actions toward making the best of our next turn, and the one after that, all the way to our last turn. 

Take care of yourself. Be zealous about what you put in your mind. Treat your body like it’s your only form of transportation through this life, because it is. Be discriminant and cherish who you spend your time with and feed those relationships with great food. Jealously and without apology protect your treasure and pursue your reward. If you haven’t yet, it’s time to go all in, to tip that scale as if nothing of any significance is on the other side. 

This blog and the associated YouTube channel is all about anticipating and celebrating our next turn. So, go get the good stuff. While you can, spend as much time as possible in nature and among the purest things that God has so carefully created for you. Embrace the suck when it comes (it will), because we know from experience that it’s only temporary and eventually leads to good. Find joy in this immersion of your existence. And then when it’s your turn and you consider what it took to get there, you will truly know that it was worth it.

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