Coming up around the sun: Not the smartest. But definitely the luckiest.


This Saturday I turn 55 years old.

For those of you paying attention that means I only have 45 years left on the planet.

This poses all sorts of problems and challenges.

If I stay relatively healthy up until I am 100 years old there are all sorts of things I hope to be able to do.

If I don’t, well, all those sorts of things I hope to do will simply become things I wanted to do.

I admit that turning 55 carries with it more reflections on the “what’s next” in my life than turning 50 did for me.

I don’t look at 55 making me contemplate my mortality.  I do that all the time.  I imagine I have been doing that since I was able to understand the word “mortality.”

On the contrary, turning 55 makes me compelled to contemplate my life – not the end of it.

I’ve lived a pretty fortunate life.  I’ve had wonderful life experiences.  I’ve had hard knocks.  I’ve been knocked down.  Hard.  I have had to get back up again.

And, again.

In the moment those hard knocks were not times when I reflected on their character building attributes.

They were horrible, not lovely, and burdensome times in my life.

Somehow, though, I managed my way through them.  Sometimes muddling.  Often times charge hard through them.

It’s been principle blessing in my life that God did not endow me with great intellect, skills or talents.

For if he had I am certain that they would have been wasted on me.

Instead, he gave me persistence, determination and temerity.

Those who know me know that I probably have too much of each.

As luck would have it, I have a dog who mirrors me in that way.

Not particularly smart or bright.  But, she is persistent, determined and full of temerity.

It’s one of the facts of my existence as an American that I believe in our nation’s exceptionalism.

How could I not?

Where else in the world could someone with so little talent, skill or brainpower make and experience the life I have had the privilege to have?

Nowhere but America.

Or, as Brooks and Dunn might sing, “Only in America.”

Today, on the verge of turning 55 I am ever mindful of the privilege and blessing I have to live in this country.  To be an American.

To embrace this nation in all of its imperfections.  Knowing, as I have for as long as I have thought about it, that what makes America great is our constant passion for making it greater.

With just days away from my 55th birthday, and my attempted 3rd running of Grandma’s Marathon on the same day, I have assembled my list of 55 things I plan to do during this next run around the sun.

There are personal challenges.  Goals.  Objectives.

A mixture of finding ways to give back.  And, to take back my own sense of purpose and mission.

I have also outlined challenges, physical and mental, and some emotional and spiritual, in my own way.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this list.  It represents where I am today in my life and, more importantly, it reflects where I want to be in my life a year from now.

I am not setting out to prove anything to anybody other than myself.

And, hopefully, before I turn 56, I will be able to look in the mirror – perhaps healthier, thinner, calmer and happier – and say, “You aren’t ever going to be the smartest kid on the block.  Ever. “

But, you may just be the luckiest one alive in America.

  • Run Grandma’s Marathon
  • Run Twin Cities Marathon
  • Run a 50-mile race
  • Run a Sprint Triathlon
  • Run an Olympic Triathlon
  • Ski a mountain with my Daughter
  • Go to New Orleans with my Son
  • Lose 30 pounds
  • Run the Birkie Trail Run
  • Ride my bike more
  • Ride my Elliptigo more
  • Get to 55 pushups
  • Get to 55 sit-ups
  • Write a book
  • Read more books
  • Go to dance classes with my wife
  • Run Red Bull Copper Peak
  • Bike a Gravel Grinder
  • Do the Chequamegon Fat Tire Race
  • Volunteer once a month at a charity event/function
  • Learn to Meditate
  • Do Yoga
  • Go to a movie twice a month
  • Write about ideas more
  • Care less about things I choose to do nothing about
  • Complain less
  • Be critical less
  • Paint my mom’s house
  • Paint the cabin
  • Put a new roof on the cabin bunkhouse
  • Fix my rowboat
  • Learn to play the guitar better
  • Go to Uganda
  • Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro
  • Climb 5 14ers
  • Cook more
  • Cut off all my hair
  • Start a Podcast
  • Learn a language
  • Join a Board
  • Listen more, Talk less
  • Drink more water
  • Take more walks
  • Pay less attention to my phone
  • Eat more vegetables
  • Start a movement
  • Start a fire
  • Go on more dates with my wife
  • Be there
  • Lift more weights
  • Whistle more
  • Complain less
  • Eat something I haven’t eaten before
  • Go fishing more often
  • Run the Ironman 70.3 in Waco, Texas

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