Today I turn 30 years old. Actually in 1 hour 19 mins. Or 7 hours 19 mins, to be more accurate; adding the time zone difference from Boston to Spain.
I didn't put a huge amount of time into planning the birthday celebration, but I couldn't be happier with where I am spending the day. With Lidiya, in a stunning room of the wonderful Los Baños de La Luz accommodations in the tiny town of Facinas. 9km from the most popular climbing spot in the province of Cádiz, San Bartolo, which has spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and Africa. And only a few kilometres further lies the magnificent Bolonia beach. A perfect balance of rock and sea.
Climbing is the ideal way to start the next decade of my life for a number of reasons. As well as being my favourite sport it pushes me outside of my comfort zone. It's a discomfort I long for, but a challenging discomfort nonetheless.
The most satisfying days on the rock go hand in hand with pushing myself to my limit and either falling, or just scraping by and sending a hard route. When I push myself to the edge, all physical strength and all focus go into it. It's meditative. A fully present experience. And fear needs to be set aside or at least pushed through. Otherwise, I make an error and take an unnecessary fall, or I cower out and just don't try.
This satisfaction has parallels in other areas of life. Some of the most challenging aspects of my work involve coding problems. And frequently the most rewarding are tasks that seem daunting at first, with no known solution in site. Arriving at a solution requires meeting fear of the unknown — what if I don't find an answer, or am unable to implement one. And getting to that solution brings personal growth. Some new learning, or added confidence, that widens my perceived circle of possibilities.
To mark big occasions, I love to reflect. That means journalling, and maybe putting together a blog post.
I roughly divide my life up into a few spheres and ask myself how I feel about each.
How do I feel about:
- My relationship
- Health and fitness
- Work and business
- New Experiences
New experiences includes things like rock climbing, visiting new places, getting outdoors, as well as learning new things, like salsa, Spanish, Flamenco guitar.
I decided I effectively live on holiday (or 'on vacation' for US peeps 🙂 ). Coming back from a week in Italy this year, it was amazing to appreciate that I was coming home to Spain. And although I regularly remind myself how grateful and fortunate I am to live in such a stunning part of Andalucia, I saw those landscapes with renewed eyes on the return trip.
Although I have dreams of spending six months in Japan, travelling and learning the language. And although I long to climb in Thailand; to tour around the States in a camper van; to backpack all over South and Central America. I know the time for those hasn't arrived yet. I'm very fortunate to say I'm fully stimulated with life right now.
Most weekends Lidiya and I explore new amazing places in southern Spain. I just started learning Flamenco guitar (what better place than in its birthplace, Andalusia!). Cádiz and Malaga are full of world class climbing spots — There is a lifetime of climbing in El Chorro alone. Portugal is a few hours drive away, as is Morocco. I'm in no hurry to travel further afield.
Goal Setting (or lack thereof)
I won't bore you with as much detail about the other areas of my life. In short, I'm happy with my work; a small online business I started developing about a year ago is profitable, albeit with relatively small revenue, but growing month on month; and my meditation and gratitude practices continue consistently.
I'm almost hesitant to say that I'm content with my life. Part of me responds to that with inquietude. A desire to push things to the next level, to constantly improve. To avoid stagnation.
I've come to understand that I'm content not with the snapshot that is my life this very second. But with the acceleration of my life; the rate of change and direction. And it's the first time that I can remember (since I started goal setting), that I don't have a new and improved list. Almost all my goals feel on point, and my plan of action for each feels solid.
My relationship is Lidiya is the most important and magical aspect of my life. I've told myself countless times how lucky I am to have met Lidiya. On a scale of luckiness, it's like winning the lottery a million times consecutively.
I know we have one of the greatest relationships ever. I've noticed very however, that gradually and subtly my communication is changing. A snappy response here, a little more impatience there. Nothing serious, but, early warning signs. And it's much easier to make incremental course changes now, than salvage a wrecked ship ten years from now.
My only new goal centres around this. To practice love, compassion, and express that always in my communication. To strive to communicate as if we were still in the first weeks of our relationship.
That's a lot easier said than done, and I've yet to determine to how to change some negative habits I've developed. But I'm confident I will figure it out soon, with some thinking and writing.
I set a meditation challenge for myself at the start of the year. With the aim of meditating every day in 2015, without exception. Well, in May, I missed three days. Up until then I'd been completely consistent. Only one person has asked if I've stuck with the challenge. And that was back much earlier in the year, so I'll keep myself honest and motivated.
I'd agreed to make a contribution to the charity of choice, of the person who kept me accountable. I'll leave it up to the first person to get in touch with me with their favourite charity. Just message me on Facebook with the charity you'd like the €100 donation to be made to. And I'll keep you anonymous if you like.
I'm recommitting to the challenge, so the same offer still stands. If I slip up again, the same financial penalty applies. I've learned I need to meditate first thing in the morning, not let it get pushed off to last thing before bed. If I get another session in before bed, all the better. As well as first thing in the morning being the best time for me to stay consistent. It's also the time I notice most benefit. Some clarity before jumping into 'doing' mode.
On Getting Old
I'm not worried about aging. As far as I can tell I'm being honest with myself about that. And I believe I've come to terms with my own death. Maybe scientific breakthroughs will see the average lifespan of my generation significantly extended, but I don't believe immortality is within near reach. And I'm not preoccupied about it.
As for the process of aging. Ye, my hairline is receding a bit, and I have crows feet type expression lines developing around my eyes. But I'm in the best health I've ever been. Stronger, more flexible, more athletic. And I decided years ago that with age comes a new perspective on the world. New experiences unique to a more mature physical and mental state. And life is infinitely interesting, so looking at aging negatively seems to me a question of focus and interpretation. When I'm 120 I won't be able to run as fast as I can now, yes. But now, I can't appreciate life with the experiences of another 90 years.
I'm also fortunate to spend a lot of time at Suryalila yoga retreat centre and see inspiring yogis of all ages come and go regularly. I've met several people who look fantastic and are impressively active in their 60's and 70's. More active than many people in their 20's and 30's I know. When I turn 60, I'll be 100% older than I am now. It's literally another lifetime away. And when I'm 60, I'll have another 100% to go till 120. It's an odd way of looking at things maybe, but it makes me smile. 🙂