Pass The Torch to the Left

At about age 50, something strange happens.  No matter what our goals were when young, no matter how exciting life appeared when everything was still before us, we reach a point where we grow weary.  We tire out.  The thrill is gone.

Almost everyone I know hits the wall when it comes to what they do.  The excitement of that first “not guilty” verdict was invigorating back then.  Now, it’s what we expect.  The first big, high-profile case was a thrill.  Now, dodging the media is a burden.  Been there. Done that.

Everyone needs a challenge, a goal, to push them forward.  We want to scale higher mountains, to overcome new challenges.  But we find that the things that excited us long ago have become pedestrian.  It becomes a grind rather than a thrill.

Every person of a certain age feels the same thing. Many refuse to admit it, but they are just lying to themselves.  Maybe they think it reveals them as unhappy people, or is counterproductive in their self-marketing scheme, but the truth is that we all grow tired.

For this reason, I have a proposition.  At age 50, we all pass our jobs, professions, careers, whatever you want to call it, one person to the left.  We start fresh with a totally new set of goals and aspirations.  We do something that we’ve never done before, a fresh start.  We stare at a world full of new potential, the opportunity to succeed or fail at something we’ve never tried before. 

For you generation Y’s, or Q’s or whatever they call twenty-somethings today, I have a surprise for you.  In your mind, you never really get older than about 30.  Sure, your eyes don’t work as well, and parts of your body hurt in the morning that you never before realized you had, and you can’t remember your kids’ names.  But your brain tells you that you’re still alive and vital.  You try to lift things that will throw your back out for weeks because your brain says you still can.

There are rites of passage that propel us to move forward.  Remember that first kiss?  It was electric.  You want to feel that charge run through your body again.  No, not by cheating on your wife, but by doing something you’ve never done before.  There are a million challenges out there that I have yet to meet and overcome.  I want to feel the energy as I stare them down, and the exhilaration as I prove that I can still do anything I set my mind to.

My mind will always have the accumulated knowledge and experience gained over 50 years, and I can now see how this can be applied to so many new and different things that would not have interested me 25 years ago.  So many things are far more fascinating to me today then they were years ago, when my focus was too narrow and my interests muddled.  Back then, education was something to put up with as I pushed forward to whatever I would ultimately be.  Today, it is like food to a starving man.  Why didn’t I learn so much more when it was all there for me to partake? 

I’m ready to do it all again, just like everyone else my age.  Not a do-over, as I don’t want to be 21 again, foolish, scared and ignorant, too full of my self-potential to appreciate the joys of youth and how little I understood about the world.  No, I want to do it again knowing everything I know now. 

It doesn’t matter what the next job will be.  Well, it does, but that just confuses the point.  There are so many things that can be done better, smarter, in a way that will help people and accomplish goals that kids can’t even conceive of, no less do.  I see value in a thousand different avenues of endeavor where others see dead ends.  I see how boxes constrain young minds as they are taught by pinched-lipped teaches “the right way” to do things.  I want to risk failure by testing the edge of the world to see if I fall off, but I have no plan to fail. 

There is a fire in us that still burns to achieve the things that we’ve left undone.  We aren’t ready to get on that sled and be dragged out into the cold, snowy forest just yet.  I want to get into the ring with some kid, who is no doubt stronger than me, and show that I can accomplish with intelligence and experience what he cannot with brute youth.

If we all passed the torch one person to the left, and started anew, it would have the most significant impact on humankind ever experienced.  I’m ready to climb the next mountain.

17 thoughts on “Pass The Torch to the Left

  1. Susan Cartier Liebel

    Scott, let me be the first to say, “Brava!”
    What a wonderful post you have shared with us. I can totally relate to waking up each morning looking for the next mountain to climb, finding new challenges, new experiences to set my brain on fire, what we thought was important before pales in comparison to what we know now is…and wanting to test ourselves and what we can achieve.

    I think this is why my legal career as evolved the way it has…outside the box.

  2. Norm Pattis

    Hell, Scott. Just quit practicing law and become a columnist. Nothing stopping you.


  3. SHG

    1.  I will let you use the name if I can play drums.
    2.  It’s not my birthday, it’s Norm’s.

  4. Affe

    I hit that wall in my mid-30’s, though I saw it coming from very early on when I realized I didn’t really care to make partner, and didn’t find deal work all that thrilling. Cut back on work, moved to CA and now look for a variety of challenges, both intellectual and physical. Never been happier.

  5. Anne

    No, you!

    (Maybe not, it just seemed like a birthdayish post! If I keep saying it, I’ll be right one of these days, blind-pig-finding-acorn-like!)

  6. Anne

    I thought it was an “omg, my b-day is here and I need to start passing the torch!” kind of thought.

    My 2 1/2 year old insists that I am 29. I do not disagree.

    And HBD Norm and you and whomever, just in case I randomly got it right today! Or early, or belated. Your pick.

  7. Kathleen

    What I have had in mind is, it must be natural to shed old tasks and push out. Seek more complexity. At the end of it all, hopefully, to answer “Yes!” to the questions, “was it worthwhile?” and “have you been useful?” Pass the torch to the left. Nice post.

  8. Heather caddy

    my son forwarded this link to me. what you say is so very true; I think we get to a point where we unknowingly find ourselves ‘blending’ from one day into the next. it’s good to become aware of this and make a decision to feel alive again, we can work on the body and mind and renew ourselves in a way that we never thought possible. It’s time to get out of our ruts and reach out and experience new things that enrich our lives, just for the sake of self indulgence if nothing more, turn up the speakers and dance to music that you loved when you were younger or to music that your kids like if it’s ‘you’….find yourself again!

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