42. That is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything. At least according to Deep Thought, the supercomputer in Douglas Adams’ seminal work, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, it is. Those who have read The Hitchhiker’s Guide… will already be snickering with this reminder. Those who have not, should. Having recently completed my 42nd trip around the sun on this tiny blue planet, I’ve decided to have a look back on my Ultimate Year.
- It was my first full year without my Dad. He died in 2016, and looking back, his death has had a huge impact on me. Most notably, the circumstances of his death had a profound influence on my mindfulness practice.
- A year of seniors. My son is now a senior in college, my daughter a senior in high school. My, how time flies.
- I ran my first marathon. And my second, and my third, and my fourth. I can be obsessive.
- My first full year of eating a plant-based diet. Inspired by Scott Jurek and Rich Roll, I’ve got better health numbers now than I did in most of my 20’s and all of my 30’s.
- It was a good year for my career too. I want to keep my career separate from this blog, but it was a good year following a promotion to a leadership position. I have a fantastic team full of amazing individuals. I wouldn’t trade a single one.
- My mindfulness practice tipped – in a good way. I read several insightful books this past year, but two of the best were The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle and Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse. Gaining insights and simply fumbling my way through it, I have taken control of my emotions and want for almost nothing. I would by no means call myself enlightened, but it is a fascinating state of being.
- I supportted my wife as she pursues her passion: a Master’s of Psychology from Harvard University.
- I fell in love with trail running. Previously, I had only pounded the pavement. In my 42nd year, I ran several trail races locally and, perhaps most life-altering, I got the chance to run the petit balcon in the French Alps near Chamonix. This is where I took the lead picture of this post.
- I was able to go whale watching. Surprisingly, this was the highlight of our trip to the Massachusetts beach house in Marshfield. I expected to like seeing whales. I didn’t expect to be mystified.
- We finally took the trip to Montserrat. After years of traveling to Barcelona and always thinking about it, we finally took the day trip to Montserrat. The monastery houses the Black Madonna and my Mom was speechless. The views from the mountain are stunning.
As I wrap up this short post, I find myself in a state of complete gratitude. My wife and I both hail from small towns (I’m not even sure “town” is the right word for these places) in the Appalachian Ohio Valley, home of economic backwaters and the opioid crisis. Sometimes we look at each other and just shake our heads in awe of what the Universe has provided. The views at 42 were pretty grand.
The view from the Marshfield, MA beach house:
Whale Watching on Cape Cod
James and me (right) in Chamonix before heading up into the Alps
My homemade veggie paella
Looking down from Montserrat