What a friend we have in time
Gives us children, makes us wine
Tells us what to take or leave behind
And the gifts of growing old
Are the stories to be told.
– John Denver, Friends With You
I turn 37 today.
I’ve learned a few things about what to take or leave behind. I’ve accumulated quite a few stories, some you know and some that are still to be told.
I was thinking about everything that’s happened since my last birthday and I’m amazed at the whirlwind of the last year.
Life is good. Things seem to be accelerating. The kids don’t stop growing for a second, every day they have some new ability, their mannerisms become more grown-up – and the shoes! They’re outgrowing their shoes at a geometric rate!
Business is good. I love my job. I’m the CEO of a wealth management firm in Manhattan. I’m a financial commentator and a writer. I feel younger at 37 than I did at 27. These days, I wake up excited about what I’m going to spend my day doing. I help people for a living. It’s my only function. Most of what I do is communicate – in meetings, on phone calls, in letters and emails, on the blog and on the web, on TV. It’s what I was meant to do. I spent a long time in the wilderness with no idea where I was going. It wasn’t until a big epiphany during a hospital stay that I figured it out. Now all I have to do is remind myself of it when the going gets rough.
An old acquaintance from my early days in the brokerage business emailed me last week out of the blue. We’d worked together fifteen years ago. She wanted to know if I was mad about the time I wasted at a firm we worked at, if I regretted my time there or the foolish things we were taught. I thought about it and then replied, “No.” I’m not mad about it. It had to happen that way, I needed to go through it all. It’s what made me. I used to be angry about it, if you read my book you know this. I blamed the industry, my early bosses, my parents, myself. But I’ve let all of that go.
I’m not sure I would’ve taken the same risks I did if I hadn’t been forced to. I might have taken an easier path if one were available to me. But there was no path, just a giant chasm. And so I jumped. Ray Bradbury said “Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.” I guess he was right.
At 37 years old I am regret-free and thankful for both the bad and the good experiences that taught me what I needed to know.
Thank god for all of it.