1/3rd Life Crisis
Inevitably as I explain to people the reason why I spend such an enormous amount of time at the gym and especially when they find out that it is a half-marathon with some swimming and biking prep; the question arises as to why in the hell would I want to do that to myself. Often it starts with “Have you ever done anything like this before?” Which is a big fat “No”. It isn’t just that I am doing the Half Ironman but I am also doing the Triple Bypass which is not for the faint of heart, literally since you are so high in the mountains if you are faint of heart it could be a real medical problem.
The simple answer is that I am only a couple of weeks away from my thirtieth birthday and age is doing weird things to me. Some people have a quarter life crisis (early twenties) where they graduate college and figure out they can’t get paid very well for all their work and no one is lavishing praise on them anymore. I avoided that crisis but this one is hitting me harder. I am married, childless, we own our own house, we both drive German cars (they are VWs but they qualify) and we long ago stopped living paycheck to paycheck. A great many people would be very happy with this; and I am. I still can’t shake the feeling that I haven’t done anything worthwhile.
Adding a little salt to that wound, I watched Generation Like on Frontline which is a bit of a follow up to Merchants of Cool and I had a startling revelation that I related Merchants of Cool which is now close to 14 years old.
If you haven’t seen Merchants of Cool I included an embedded video, if you were a teenager in the late 90s and early 2000s and you haven’t seen it; it is worth 54 minutes of your time.
It isn’t as if Generation Like is completely alien to me. Being of the group of young people to first use Facebook so the technology doesn’t faze me. What does faze me is that it is clear that a generational shift has happened and I am no longer in the youngest one in pop culture. I remember in the 2012 Olympics they were playing a song by Phillip Phillips (who was previously unknown to me and I remember commenting “Wow he really sold out before he even got famous!” Which, of course, was meant as an insult. During Generation Like they mentioned that no one younger than a certain age even knows what selling out means. Could you imaging Rage Against the Machine trying to hock Pepsi or get corporate sponsorship? If the idea revolts you then you are over the hill…with me.
I suppose the old hippies from the late 60s had a similar reaction to the gritty late 70s and early 80s punk scene that took over from them. The difference is stark though. Both the rock of the late 60s and punk from the 80s had a cultural impact based on social movements that SET the stage for other culture which in turn informed advertisers and brands. This is the other way around, music and other culture is informed by corporate sponsors and brands.
That is all food for thought and polite conversation it only really relates to triathlons to describe my mindset in doing these activities. In my early twenties I was occupied by getting my career off the ground and establishing myself. I dare say that now that all of that is over I have grown restless. I am looking for something distinctive to help define me and the world of ultra-triathlons and endurance sports has become that differentiating factor.