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Monday, August 24, 2009

Not long before I was anointed host of Life (Part 2), the speedometer/odometer on my bicycle broke. Suddenly, I didn't know how far I'd gone on my daily rides and how fast. Those numbers, along with my morning weigh-in, were the stats that measured me, defined my competition with my greatest rival, me. How would I know if I was winning or losing my race against time?

The local bike shop couldn't repair the little digital device but would be happy to sell and install an over-priced new one. I decided to wait until I could get to my usual bike store, a couple hours away.

For a few days, I was disoriented. With no numbers to keep checking, I was looking at scenery, concentrating on making sharper turns, inventing new routes, hearing birdsong, alternating sprints and coasts for fun. Incredibly, I began arriving back home a few minutes sooner than usual. I was actually going faster. Feeling happier at the finish.

It's been more than a year now and I haven't fixed the speedometer. I'm still working on the metaphor of my unmeasured ride, trying to figure out how it applies off the bike. Once I became His Hostiness, I began to wonder if it would help Boomers, if not us all, to concentrate on the ride rather than the finish, take greater pleasure in the process than the outcome.

            You think I'm on to something?

Welcome to the blogside of Life (Part 2) the show that's dedicated to making baby boomers braver, not necessarily faster. It starts airing in mid-September so please check your local PBS listings.

I'll be clicking in here once a week or so with my take on Boomer issues, background gossip on upcoming shows, what's on my mind. I hope you'll share what's on yours. I'll need your feedback for direction.

Like, just how can I start applying my new bike riding style to the rest of my life? Is it maturation or surrender when you stop keeping score? Is this the path to wisdom or am I spinning my wheels?

And why can't I stop weighing myself every morning?

Comments

Maybe you agree that it is

Maybe you agree that it is important to be a safe, nurturing adult in the lives of children and young people. You might even recognize the power of being a consistent, positive presence in the lives of children and young people but, unless you move from belief to action, no one benefits.

Mariah Scores!

I know can always count on you, Mariah, for a smart and lyrical addition to the conversation. Thanks.

Enjoying the Ride

Well, I think it's a guy thing...the "numbers" fixation. All those stats, and scores. I don't get it. My "boy"friend (we are in our 60's), who is otherwise charming, verbal and intelligent, constantly keeps track of how many miles per gallon of gas his car is getting, no matter where we are going or for how long, how many pounds per something an engine has. He's always calculating this or that, and the various outcomes of future endeavors.

I, on the other hand, have spent my life never planning anything more than a month or so in advance, and have adventured into unknown situations with a kind of blind optimism. This has led to getting a one-way ticket to Bolivia in the mid-'60's, a residency permit and job in London after that because I ran out of money and didn't have enough left for a ticket back to the US, and later a string of satisfying careers that came about because I simply walked into places that looked interesting (without an appointment--none had job postings) and talked my way into being a newspaper photographer, art critic (I was an art school graduate), journalist and finally special effects animator, which I retired from a few years ago.

My point, I guess, is that even as a kid I had the feeling that setting fixed-in-stone goals would deprive one of the ability to jump at any opportunity that might come along. Granted, none of these things made me rich, but that was never the idea anyway. The only priorities I had were finding things to do that were creative/fun, make enough to live on if possible, learn something new, meet interesting people. Those I have accomplished, and I am grateful for "the ride."

I might add that I hardly ever weigh myself, and rarely wear a watch.

Weighing in

One valuable question might be, What are you measuring, and why? If you're weighing yourself to make sure you're maintaining a steady, healthy weight, what's the harm in that? It's when we use the rulers to beat ourselves up (and plenty of us do) that we get in trouble. Keeping score can add to a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction - and can provide motivation to help overcome natural human laziness. It can also make one fixated on the goal rather than the process, as you so eloquently pointed out. Some things - such as the joy of a glorious bike ride, or the satisfaction of helping an elderly parent, or the even sense of connection and purpose in a lighthearted staff meeting -- cannot be measured. I agree that we boomers need reminders, and even tools, to help us enjoy the journey instead of racing frantically toward the finish line -- which, after all, is coming up way too soon!

Thanks, Jon and R, for

Thanks, Jon and R, for weighing in. You can be sure I'll at least be counting comments.

Living large

Pedal, check miles, weigh.
Repeat daily.
End of discussion.

Measuring Achievements

Management guru Peter Drucker says "If you can't measure it, you can't manage it."

Life without measurable goals? I refer you to the Millennials' favorite saying: "Whatever."

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