Five weeks in Mongolia. Next Sunday I leave for three weeks in Ethiopia. This is what I do: adventure travel all over the world. Been going it a long, long time.
Forgive me, Michael, and this isn’t a slam, but I am mildly curious about why you would write about getting old when you aren’t even thirty yet? You’re a virile, handsome dude of 28 and barely three years past what research states is your absolute physical prime. Sarcopenia is years away. It’s not mine to dictate to you what to write about, but usually it makes sense to pen what you and I know first hand. To wit: you and I both travel, and we have immediate and visceral knowledge of the places, people cultures that touch us. That lends us gravitas.
On the issue of aging, it might be fair to say that at 66, my direct experience of creaking joints, the weight of decades of athletic endeavors and the reality of limited time offer me a slightly different authority than a gorgeous guy ( yes you are) who has all those decades still ahead.
What an $8,000 Mountain Bike Taught Me About My Aging Body
“It’s rusted together,” the REI bike tech told me. “We need to replace the whole bottom bracket. Apparently the part…
Hear me out, Michael. This isn’t a criticism but rather an invitation. Here’s where your thoughts about aging would be more potent, and again, this is just a thought. For those of us who are already aged (and I am there in body but most certainly not in attitude), an article about how to age well by a guy who hasn’t found his first grey public hair doesn’t carry a lot of weight for the simple fact that you aren’t there yet. You have no direct experience. Less generous folk will scoff if only because all you can do is quote research. Research is fine, Michael, but tain’t nothin’ like living the reality.
However and here’s the piece- you and I both see LOTS of oh woe articles by folks facing thirty- which you most certainly are- with an unreasonable terror.
You have complete agency to speak to the turning of the twenties decade, which for whatever reason carries an unholy amount of weight, fear and the abject terror that like Elvis, youth has left the building.
Of course it has. You are grappling with that right this second. So is a whole generation of mid-Millennials for whom the notion of eternal youth is winding down. Michael, every single generation deals with this.
This is what I personally would prefer to see you write about. Because this is a topic ( like your travel) that you can own. You’re living the transition from uber young to the very beginning of your middle decades right now. I see so many people write monumentally stupid shit about leaving their twenties as though that by virtue of their thirtieth birthday, the Universe suddenly conveyed upon them The Wisdom of the Ages.
I would be so grateful to see thoughtful material penned by someone your age about what facing down thirty offers, what it costs, and including interviews which provide insight into what real people are doing, not just you.
You can own that space, Michael, because you’re in it. You could take the material you researched and crank it to address what a Millennial-turning-thirty needs to do right here, right now, the habits you and they need to develop, to age better when you get there. To wit: this just inspired me to write an article about how, at 31, I dumped nearly 90 lbs for life and put in place eating and exercise programs that have and continue to pay off right here, right now, at nearly 67. Now that’s useful to someone at 30, because if they’re worried about old age, and shit, who isn’t, what can they do today (this is to your point about planning ahead) to ensure an active, engaged, superb last three decades. Which is precisely what I am living right here, right now.
I own the active, badass aging space because I live it. There are very few people- especially women- who do what I do at this age. I’ve carved that out for myself.
My heartfelt invitation to you is to carve out what I see as a very useful niche that speaks to the completely-predictable angst, worry and fear that folks from 27 to 32 battle. That is the very first major transition from Apprentice to Journeyman. The next huge stage, which is where I am now, us from journeyman to Master. Most all of us go through these three important stages. There’s nothing that I see written by someone who is your age about how shifting from Learning How (high school, college, building skills) to Being In and Applying (working, raising a family etc) that makes that transition easier.
Very few folks write about what it means to make that first shift because they are too young to know what’s happening to them. You’re in it right now. What is your immediate reality? What do you own about your fears, your trepidations, your opportunities?
By definition, Michael, you cannot know my world, because you are decades away from it. In many ways it would be like my writing about what it’s like growing up as a Southie in Boston. I can interview folks, but I don’t know. Never will.
You know what it’s like to be facing down your first significant decade. What does that bring up for you? What do you worry about? What beliefs do you need to relinquish? How are others doing it? What wisdom can you derive from those experiences?
You own that. I’d much rather read that than an article listing research about aging that you can’t directly related to your own life except…see below.
Again. Michael. This isn’t a slam. good writers write what they know.
That said this response and my ideas are only worth the air they are written on.
When I write about aging and quote a New York Times article or medical research, the difference is that I can address how I apply that in my own aging life. That has the ring of authenticity.
I’d be tickled pink and would love to link to work that does the same thing for late twenty-somethings navigating the fraught waters of leaving youth behind. Rather than claim all manner of wisdom that folks in their eighties still don’t have (by that time they know they don’t know which is part of what wisdom looks like), you can indeed claim what it feels like to be in the stew of a body that has just begun to slip on the scree of downhill.
In fact what a great analogy. Kilimanjaro was like that. After that massive climb, it’s a shit-fest heading downhill. All scree for thousands of feet. So is getting older after 25, unless….what, Michael? What are you doing to maintain your VO2 capacity, your strength, your mobility and flexibility? That work begins right NOW at 28. Most folks at 28 have no idea there’s a scree field ahead because all they know is youth, a strong body (well mostly) and it’s smooth sailing. Until they hit forty or fifty and Holy Shit, Batman. Where did my Thor-in-Endgame dad bod come from?
I have to hit the weights, the floor and my riding lesson today. I am off to Ethiopia in a week, then to Africa for five. Next year I ride in Siberia. I have a stupid badass life. That’s my niche.
Yours, should you choose to embrace it, could be to fill what I see as a significant vacuum for those your age who are about to step off into their middle years without much understanding of what’s ahead.
Call me crazy, but I see a need. You cannot speak for my world, except to quote research. But boy, can you speak to yours, including those who would LOVE to travel at your age.
Wanna play? Nothing like owning a niche, dude.