Friday, October 15, 2004

Why 40 year olds cannot date 20 year olds. (NSM)

When I was 20 I had to be getting somewhere. To say my life was going nowhere was anathema. So all my energies were put on getting somewhere. That is the essence of our 20's. Dealing with uncertainties. Trying to figure it out.

When I was 30 I had to figure out if where I was, was where I wanted to be. There was the ever present, “Am I doing what I really want to do with my life?” To say my life was not going the way I planned or hoped was anathema. That is the essence of our 30s. Dealing with certainties. Trying to figure out if they are the ones we want.

Now I am 40. I have realised that there is nowhere to go. There is no other real destination for humans other than death. This is not a negative thing but a very liberating thing. The challenge for me now is to find creative and interesting things that I can be excited about between now and then. Then can happen at any moment. So the moments in-between have to have personal meaning. Is that the essence of our 40's? Dealing with the unknown and not letting it mind-fuck us? Trying to cultivate magic moments? I’ll answer that question 10 years from now.

Sadly (and I am sure this may be a universal truth) I did not see that much of the magic of my teens, 20's, and 30's. Upon reflection I can see the magic and take joy in a life well lived but I can imagine how much more exciting it would have been if I new I was experiencing magic at all those times.

Here is a brief synopsis of my adult life.

Formal Education

Bachelor of Arts (English), University of Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Graduate Studies Diploma (Theology), Toronto School of Theology, University of Toronto

Seminary Training Program, Resurrection College, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Tarragon Studio acting workshops.

Summer Institute of Film and Television, Directors workshop.

Nutrition and Wellness Specialist, Canadian Association of Fitness Professionals

Personal Trainer Specialist, Canadian Association of Fitness Professionals

Standard First Aid and CPR, St. John Ambulance, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Former certified member of the Coaching Association of Canada


In my late teens and early twenties I was an overachiever. This probably has everything to do with wanting to be accepted and to fit in. I wanted the world to tell me what a nice boy I was. I became active in Boy Scouts of Canada, Church Youth Groups, Parish Councils, and Knights of Columbus. I even called bingo numbers. It was during this period that I had the opportunity to meet and have a short chat with the then Princess of Wales, Diana. Charles has a wicked handshake.

In 1984 I was placed on the Canadian Guest Speakers List for International Youth Year. Supposedly someone believed I had an insight into youth issues. Yes I did burn out at one point.

In 1986 I was asked to take part in a community service and development pilot project sponsored by the Jesuits. The project involved a member of the religious community and a person with some youth experience to live and work in a welfare housing project. This was a very challenging year. And though I left the project after a year I kept working in the community in another capacity for three more years.

From 1987 - 89 I worked for a community centre as a program coordinator and a sports coach. Other than having a lot of good intentions I did not know a lot. This is when I decided to get some serious coaching training with the Coaching Association of Canada and received a full Level One Certification and completed the theory portion of the Level Two Certification.

During this time I took several undergraduate courses in psychology to gain some insight into what makes people tick.

In 1989 a friend suggested I go on a program called S.E.R.V.E. (Summer Endeavour in a Redemptorist Volunteer Experience). For six weeks I lived in a Christian Community and was a volunteer at L'Arche a community for people with developmental disabilities. L'Arche was a very humbling experience. I am a person who enjoys feedback and when working with someone with a disability you get no traditional feedback. You have to trust. I have a brother with Tourrett's and so working at L'Arche touched off other issues.

After completing the S.E.R.V.E. program I was pumped about the Redemptorist Religious Community and the Youth Ministry work they did. I had thought of a religious vocation many times previously and decided while the metal was hot I should strike.

It was at Resurrection College where I received the bulk of my training in community dynamics. Besides completing an English Degree I took nine Philosophy Courses that were prerequisites for the Graduate Theology program. These courses ranged from introductory courses to philosophy of human nature, existence of God to Ethical Theory. Surprisingly I did not fall asleep in class but found it fascinating.

Also at Resurrection College I was introduced to one of the most insightful tools of personality typing the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This is a typing tool that has a few variations and I use it to help clients gain insight into how they process the world.

One of the most beneficial components of the Resurrection College program was that seeing a counsellor/spiritual director was mandatory. I like to think of it as four years of therapy. And I survived. Not only were we taught how to minister to people's needs but ours were ministered to as well. One of the reasons I have such respect for the power of life coaches and mentors is I have had a few amazing ones.

My four years in community services and recreation followed by my four years in Religious Life was a win/win situation. Though I decided to move on to something else it was one of the most formative periods of my life. I like to think of it as having a no limit credit card in the philosophy, community, spirituality, and psychology home depot of personal development.

After completing grad school I made a departure from the world of community and religious dynamics. In case you are wondering today I consider myself a secular humanist with a Taoist bent.

When I left religious life I was lost. I was broke. I had no circle of friends in a new city. I tried to tap into some of the other things I wanted to be when I grew up. I realised that as a child I loved TV and movies. I had always thought I wanted to be an actor - off to acting class. I did a TV commercial for Trivial Pursuit, had the lead in a music video, and a theatre gig. It was during the theatre gig that I got to do some directing and caught that bug. But I was still broke.

The next stage of my life placed me in the business world. Because I believed I was on touchy feely overload and acting was not paying the bills I felt it was time to do something less that. I worked in a coffee shop for three years and ended up becoming a graveyard shift manager. From there I entered the world of advertising for a large agency in Toronto working as an account executive on a few very high profile pieces of business.

I was amazed at how all the personality, community, and group dynamics training in my past gave me insights into managing the business world. Quickly though I realised that my calling in life was not advertising. I found consumerism to be a vacuous pursuit.

In 1998 a friend asked me to help him start a magazine and seeing as the writer in me was dying to get back into action I leapt at the opportunity. For the next year and a half we published a magazine called DRAGÜN in Toronto. As the Editor and Senior Writer for the magazine I was able to hone all the skills from my English degree. If you ever want to learn to write well or write better may I suggest you take a job as an editor. You will learn to look at the technique and craft of writing as well as the creativity and then be able to get enough emotional distance from your own work to know when you've written crap. Being an editor has helped me be a better writer.

In 1999 during a moment of angst and finding advertising to be soulless I did some soul searching. I decided to explore the directing curiosity and took a summer course. Over the next year film school was not an option so I decided I would write, produce, and direct a short. In true Woody Allen fashion I also gave myself a role. The project was successfully executed from a technical standpoint but the story and acting were weak.

In 2000 a friend in Singapore was starting an Internet company and it was at the peak of the boom. Content was supposedly everything. He had seen my work on DRAGÜN and asked if I would like to move to the other side of the planet and help an Internet start-up. I said yes. Within three months of my arrival in Singapore the Internet bubble burst. We were all let go. If you want to see how strong your coping skills are I suggest you find yourself in a foreign country without a job, no place to stay, and a work visa that has just been revoked.

Well I am still alive but my coping skills were tested to their limits and at times I thought past breaking point. I stayed in Asia for about 11 months and travelled a bit. Bangkok - the city where you can be on your knees in the daytime for one reason and at night for a completely different one. Dancing on the beach at an all night party in Singapore. Lounging without a care in Phuket, Thailand. Thinking the building next to the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was nicer looking. Sydney, Australia Mardi Gras, you know a parade at night is really cool. The world is a big fascinating place but more similar than I thought different.

When I returned to Canada I met up with my sister one day and noticed that in the year I was away she put on a lot of weight. She tells the story that my enquiry into what happened was not the most sensitive or diplomatic. Being aware of my history in recreation and an avid exerciser she asked my advice in developing a program to help her get back into shape. One day during an instruction session she suggested that I should think about doing this full-time. Bells went off, lights came on, and a few certifications later I arrive at the end of this sentence.

As I began to further educate myself I realised that working as a life coach and a health and fitness consultant was the perfect way of bringing all my education and experience to one single focus.

Today I teach ESL at a language centre, I am a health and fitness consultant, and I am writing again with two pieces published this year.

Now here I am!

If anyone told me this story I would say, “WOW!” But for so many years I could not see the WOW!

The magic of my life seemed to be outside my vision and understanding. (Except my time at UofW. I glimpsed that magic a few times and knew it.) I suppose this would be a good place to mention that I have suffered from Bipolar Mood Disorder since my early 20s but did not get it diagnosed and begin treating it until I was 37. Not sure how much that kept the magic hidden and will not waste time figuring it out.

I have also had a lot of magic in my love life. I have had some amazing relationships full of much joy. I have fallen in love. I have had my heart broken and I have broken hearts. And I would not trade any of those experiences. And I have been known to have great sex.

Well if you haven’t figured out what all this has to do with, “Why 20 year olds cannot date 40 year olds.” Let me connect the dots. LIFE!

I don’t think I have life figured out but I have lived some life. And more importantly I have stopped trying to chase that meaning. Now I am just trying to find things that give my life personal meaning.

I would never have been able to say that in my 20's and 30's and there are only a very small minority of people in their 20's and 30's who can understand that. I am not sure if I have met any of them and there is a part of me that thinks they do not exist. The focus of 20's and 30's is very different than 40's. I am sure the focus of my 50's and 60's (knock wood) will be very different than they are now.

SO there be the problem boys and girls. When a 20 year old finds an interesting 40 year old they will never be able to know the journey of 20 years until they experience it. They are both seeing life from such different places. This is not a judgement just a reality. A 40 year old will never be able to regain that youthful idealism and lust for life possessed by a 20 year old. A 20 year old will never have the perspective and experience of a 40 year old. That just is. A 20 year old will always want to know where is it going, what is it becoming, will it last? A 40 year old will always want to have the magic of the moment. The 20 year old is searching for permanence. The 40 year old will know there is only impermanence. I was dating a guy around 20 and this was the reality. He once said I was cold and passive to which I responded, “You should never confuse cold and passive with nonchalance.”

I think a 40 year old can understand and appreciate a 20 year old, but a 40 year old is just old to a 20 year old. The 20 year old has his map laid out in front of himself where a 40 year old sees no reason for the map. Let’s see where the road takes us.

Today I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. I am somewhat excited about it. Will I make another film? I do not know. The first was more a curiosity. I realised earlier this year that the reason I wanted to be a filmmaker was not because I feel I had something to say but I wanted the world to look at me!! I think I may make a film if I feel I have something to say.

I have finally found my voice as a writer and have begun to explore it. I write because I feel I have something to say not because I want the world to say what a nice boy I am. I use to think my life was going nowhere. But that was when I thought fame, power, and money would give it meaning. My life has been in some amazing magical places and I am sure it will be in many more. And now...

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a reason to lose said...
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