Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The new adventure begins

Today, I turn 40.
So far, I have gotten one humorous birthday card reminding me of how things were when I was younger. I have gotten my share of Facebook greetings referring to me as Old Man. My favorite came from a college roommate who simply wrote, "Good Lord, you're old."
It's all good.
I am sure I pestered friends older than I when they turned the dreaded 4-0. Turnabout is fair play.
For the past year now, I wondered what my big great adventure would be. One of my college friends climbed Mt. Everest when he turned 40. This summer, he was planning to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and invited me along.
I'm not sure he ever made it. Obviously, I did not. But the thought of traveling to Africa to climb a mountain was romantic to think about, leaving me to live vicariousy through my friend Nathan, who traved to Africa to make his own great climb only to discover a much bigger adventure.
In one of our discussions, Nathan told me not to worry, I would get to Africa one day.
My Africa, it turns out - at least for now - is finding that my adventure isn't so much a destination, but the greater story discovered on the way.
In the past few weeks, I have watched my newspaper close, I have begun a new venture at AnnArbor.com and have considered doing some freelance public relations work for friends. I have also been asked to consider working part-time at our church, helping new members become engaged in our congregation by using their gifts to serve the greater good.
My new adventure includes a change in priorities. After years of defining myself by my journalism career, I have learned that work – while still a passion – can no longer be my identity. There are greater sources of happiness and a greater purpose.
I will no longer choose to find complete satisfaction in marquee assignments or high-profile bylines. There is more inside of me that is begging to be used to serve a higher purpose.
The journey to the top of my mountain won't be a short one. Nor will it be completed overnight. But my recent first step into my 40s has reminded me that it's OK to stop and take a glimpse of what's around me rather than focusing solely on the final destination.
Next stop, Africa.
And yes, Nathan, one day I will get there.

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