As I was driving in the car yesterday, the deep sax of Morphine filling my ears, watching the waxing orange and purple of the sun set in front of me, I was startled by how alive I felt; how vivid I saw the world around me. I was weary to the bone, both mentally and physically after a long day being under the hot sun, yet I was energized in a way that I just can’t put into words. Believe me, I’ve been trying to all day and still come up short of finding the right phrase. With the scent of half burned gasoline and engine exhaust emanating from my clothes I started thinking about all the things that have changed in just a few short months. And as I listed them out in my head I kind of amazed myself…
I got promoted to Vice President. January 1st of this year I started my new role, and while it’s the next rung in the corporate ladder, I’m really proud of what I’ve accomplished. Not bad for a middle class kid from Detroit who took 9 years to get through college.
I bought a Lotus. A 5 year dream, 2 years of which was spent working more than one job so I could have the money for a down payment on it. And the enjoyment it’s brought me these past few months is indescribable. Being able to toss on some music and just go for a drive is one of the most simple pleasures I have. A drive in the Lotus for me is nothing but a gateway to the happiness in my soul, even when it’s just going to the gas station. On my worst day this year, rather than sit and brood on my unhappiness, I grabbed the keys and went for a drive. And when I got home life wasn’t so bad – sometimes you need your past accomplishments to remind you that you can be successful in reaching your goals despite some stumbles along the way.
I learned how to scuba dive. For years I’ve always said “one day I’d like to go scuba diving, it looks fun”. And then one day this spring I got invited to go on a scuba diving trip and while I was initially hesitant just said “why not?” and signed up to get certified. Sometimes you just have to leap.
I took my first international trip. Yep, hard to believe, but before this year I’d never been out of the country. Sure, I’d been to Canada as a little kid and done the Tijuana thing in my early 20’s but to really go outside the borders of the US and need a passport to get back in was something I’d never done. And the Turks & Caicos did not disappoint… it was truly out of the US. I mean… they have no stop lights and use traffic circles, not to mention you drive on the wrong side of the road.
I spoke on my first security webinar. This will always be remembered as one of the funnest things I’ve done. Talking with a group of guys who’s knowledge far exceed mine and having a good time doing it… yeah, definitely in the win column.
I went to my first out of state concert. Completely spur of the moment I dropped a few hundred bucks on 3rd row seats to Social Distortion in Nashville, called my brother, and told him we’re going to a concert together. I hadn’t gone to a concert with him since we were teenagers and it was an awesome night seeing an awesome band at an awesome venue.
I did my first charity event. And it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I’ve never been one to really give time and energy to others as surprising as it may seem. Sure I give a few bucks here and there to the Salvation Army at Christmas, and I donate a Lego set every year to the Toys for Tots program, but never searched out a way to actually give something other than a faceless donation. And seeing the smiles on the faces of those kids… holy shit was that amazing. I realized that day I had completely missed the boat on something really important in life.
I spoke at my first security conference at the request of someone else. Before this year I’d spoken at the Atlanta B-Sides conference, but that was of my own volition. But in May, out of nowhere, I was approached and asked to speak at a conference based on my sheer speaking ability and the ideas I had conveyed to a group of folks. At the end of that speaking engagement I had a group of CIO’s passing me their business cards because they wanted to stay in contact and hear more of what my thoughts were. And yeah… that pretty much kicked ass.
I did my first podcast interview. I was in DC, standing in the hallway with a group of people speaking my mind (as I’m well known to do), I caught the ear of Ira Victor who hosts the Cyber Jungle podcast. After a 10 minute diatribe he looked at me and said “I want to interview you, that was awesome”. And so off we went, just like that, and I did my first interview.
I posted my first blog post. Obviously here and it will be the first of many I’m sure. This is another of those “I should write more, I have good ideas occasionally”. But these blog posts don’t write themselves either. I think the word I’m looking for is “lazy” – don’t be.
I learned to indoor rock climb. I’m still not super at it, but give me a few more months and I’ll be doing lead rope 5.11’s. Not a doubt in my mind.
I joined my first gym. I’ve worked out before (that should be a given), but never taken the step to actually join a gym where you go and actually work out amongst others. I’m sure there is some kind of latent self-esteem thing hidden in there, but whatever, I’ve hit the age where I really just don’t care what other people think. And surprisingly, I’ve actually enjoyed the time getting out of the house and being able to do things that you just can’t do in your own basement.
I had my first pool party. Granted it was 6 people and planned at the last minute, but the fact that I’ve lived in this house for 5 years with a pool and never had one… kind of a “what the hell am I waiting for” moment.
I learned to ride a motorcycle. I’ve always been scared of motorcycles and while I’ve always secretly wanted to try it, my fear of it always prevented me from giving it a try. As I’ve gotten older I keep asking myself, “if not now… when?”. And so a couple weeks ago said “what the hell…” and signed up for a class. And of course, as should be no great surprise, I loved it.
So by now you’re probably thinking what a pompous ass filled with self pride listing all the things he’s done. Yeah, I’m proud of my personal accomplishments, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make. The point is this – what are you doing in your life today and tomorrow to accomplish the things you want to? Up until this year I had half halfheartedly followed the passion in my heart. I felt drawn to all these great adventures but never took the time to chase them. Some dreams take a long time in coming, and take a lot of work, but don’t you owe it to yourself to chase them? If you don’t give chase wholeheartedly… then who is?
And now you’re saying “I can’t because ______”. So what’s preventing you? Is it fear, priority, life circumstances, financial challenges? It’s not all fun and games, believe me. Earlier this year I had my heart broken; not once but twice. Its been an emotionally challenging few months for sure, ask some of my friends, but as I look around me, I realize I’m still on top of life, and while I haven’t found that special someone to share my life with I’m not beat yet… not by a long shot. So my advice is this, regardless of what you’re next adventure is, or the circumstances of your life, or how many times you’ve cried yourself to sleep with tears of heartache or frustration… you have the power to change it. Take control, take steps, take one day at a time and work towards your goal. But whatever you do, just do… you’ll get there eventually. And you’ll be a better person for it – that which we get for free has no value. All of a sudden you’ll realize your life has become about passion, happiness, and you’ll bring that to those around you and most importantly … to yourself.
Case in point: In the next few months I’ll buy my first motorcycle, I’ll make my first cross country road trip, I’ll walk 60 miles with a friend battling cancer, I’ll see my first football game at USC, I’ll learn how to be a photographer, and who knows what else… it’s only July. Maybe I’ll meet the girl of my dreams… wouldn’t that be a kicker.