A challenge of middle age that I didn't anticipate

Be grateful and take nothing for granted

For the first time ever in this newsletter, I slipped.

I normally write this issue on Saturday nights, but this first week of 2024 has hit me like a ton of bricks.

Things that I could weather before, I simply could not handle this time.

We all have our limits.

There’s also another aspect of this period of life that I hadn’t braced myself for that appeared unexpectedly.

Death.

Clearly a reasonable excuse to miss a day, but not one that I would want to be a theme.

Everything has a beginning and an end…

The periods we live through

We experience life through each stage along with the rest of our generation. The mileage may vary a bit, but our peers also experience a similar layout.

  • 1st decade: environmental exploration and growth

  • 2nd decade: puberty and adolescence

  • 3rd decade: personal exploration and maturation

  • 4th decade: career growth and family life

  • 5th decade: support and mentorship

Beyond this point I can’t really say yet, and the last one is the one I’m just now beginning to experience.

However, I can say that the overlap of the generation before and the generation ahead is, for the most part in the US, between the 3rd and 4th periods.

In other words, the previous generation is now in the senior citizen demographic as they begin the period of retirement and end of life: the 7th and 8th decades.

I’ve been very fortunate to have healthy relatives who have been living well into their 70s, 80s, and 90s now.

However, the clock is beginning to run out.

It recently did for both a distant aunt at the age of 105 and my uncle at 75 today.

It reminds me that my father is the youngest on his side of the family while my mother is the oldest on her side. The spread is pretty large, but my father also happens to be the only one with children on his side.

One of my cousins on my mother’s side just has his first child while the others have yet to even marry since they are younger.

I share this to to remind you of just how fragile our lives really are and to say that I’m grateful to have known my extended family on the other side of the world.

It also reminds me that this decade may very well be the one where my relatives on my father’s side may pass.

I’m going to miss my uncle. He was already in his mid-40s when I first met him as a six-year old. The last time I saw him was five years ago when we were living in Taiwan. He was always deliberate, moved slowly, and had a surprisingly large appetite for such a small man! At the end of family gatherings, he’d be the one to clean the table of any of the remaining dishes.

I think that last part is genetic as I’ve surprised my colleagues at lunch by cleaning my plate while they would take theirs home for dinner.

I digress…I’m still processing what has happened I suppose.

I’m sad that we couldn’t return sooner due to the pandemic. I’d like for my youngest to meet the family soon.

Closing thoughts

I guess what I’m trying to say is that gratitude is more important to me than ever.

  • for my socioeconomic advantages

  • for living in a country that encourages entrepreneurship

  • for the love and support that I have from friends, family, and the community

I know it’s cliche, but don’t take anything for granted. It’s easy to complain about “first world problems”, but it doesn’t move the needle for you or your loved ones.

Sustainable presence and sharing are what drive me to write.

Vince

P.S. I’ll share more about the progress I’m making from the 7-part series I finished last year. This is a little reminder this week that things could be a lot worse. Keep your head up…only 51 weeks left in the year!