Hole-In-One

I grew up playing golf, but inadvertently fell out of the game due to work and other priorities. I‘d been longing to get back into the game, but kept procrastinating. So, when my friend Ben asked me to join him for 9 holes to celebrate his 40th birthday at Glen Oaks, I thought… here’s my chance! (LESSON #1: yes = adventure)

At first, I was intimidated and hesitant to have my first round in 8 years be at a fancy country club. I mean, I didn’t even have golf clothes, a glove, or shoes anymore, but I figured this would be a great way to dive in head first and get back out there. So, I quickly went shopping and got a few practice swings in at the driving range. (LESSON #2: now > later)

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This caffeinated contribution was written by Derek Brooks. Derek is a 40.79 year old midwestern American dude who enjoys building, traveling, partying, extremish sports, and can be found in our Roasted Reflections group on Discord.

On Ben’s birthday, I showed up to find him sipping on a Miami Vice cocktail with his buddy and business partner, Sinclair. This immediately set the stage that we were going to have some fun. Golfing with Ben was awesome. Whether it was his general demeanor, his lack of grabbing a scorecard, the way we strolled around the clubhouse, or laughs along the way, this freshly minted 40 year old was a constant reminder that we were here to relax. (LESSON #3: fun > serious)

For the first 5 holes on the back 9, my subconscious nerves were getting in the way. My hits weren’t clean and the strong winds certainly weren’t helping… But despite all the double bogeys, I was still having fun and it felt great being back on the course. (LESSON #4: fun + humility + patience = growth)

Halfway through the round, I could feel the groove coming back. On hole 15, I finally snagged my first par (Ben caught a birdie, haha). After that, we walked up to Hole 16, a 168-yard par 3, with wind in our face. Feeling incredibly relaxed, I lined up with my 7-iron and hit a super clean shot. It felt great and looked even better. The ball dropped just short and left of the pin, took 2 small hops, and then smoothly rolled right into the hole. A freakin hole-in-one. (LESSON #5: openness + growth + serendipity = opportunity)

I couldn’t believe what I’d just seen. Ben and I started screaming and laughing as we ran around the tee box. We full-on bear hugged and I think he even picked me up at one point. Neither of us knew what to do or how to act, so I just threw my gold chain on and giggled while Ben pulled out his GoPro to capture the moment.

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Watch this magical moment!

After that ace, the next hole was a complete blur, but I ended the round with a birdie on 18. If I hadn’t set my nerves/ego aside and took that opportunity to get back into the game by having my first round in 8 years at an intimidating country club, I’d still be in that procrastination loop. I would’ve never gotten my first hole-in-one or shared this incredible experience on Ben’s 40th birthday. (LESSON #6: yes + growth = celebrate)

When I think about this experience through the lens of my career as a technologist, I’m reminded that getting in over-my-head has always been the fastest way for me to grow and move forward. I’m not expecting to be cranking out hole-in-ones from here, but once again, jumping back in head first is something that I will never regret. This memorable day was the reminder I needed to push outside comfort zones, enjoy the moments, and celebrate always.

Eclipsing 40

I sit atop this hill, soaking in the darkness of a total lunar eclipse, verbally dictating this short reflection to celebrate my own 40th trip around the Sun.

As our pale blue dot moved between the moon and our closest star, I first noticed the moving shadow’s blurry edge. As I think about the time we spend on Earth, so much of it is devoted to finding our place in the universe. Even when we are so close to perfect alignment, the blur of subtle distractions will remain constant.

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Perhaps this transitory quest for totality is the impossible pursuit that makes life so much fun.

Anticipation takes over as the final sliver of moonlight goes dark. The orange haze of this blood moon is now the only cloud in the sky. Even with the cool breeze, city lights, distant traffic, and frogs burping, the twinkling stars seem to serenade the silence of this moment. As the darkness holds time still, an eerie peacefulness is accompanied by a welcomed loneliness.

My thoughts soon sync into the shadow of this cosmic darkness. This makes it useless to resist the overwhelming appreciation I have for so many people who have given my life meaning. The past 40 years are a tribute to those who brought me to this place and to the family I’ve chosen every step of the way. Thank you.

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Jodie and Kate, you are the light of my life and my own totality. Together, you set me free to wonder and have taught me the meaning of life. I’m only 40 years old, so while I look forward to much more of our story being written, whenever I do turn my final page, know that I’ll always be with you and wouldn’t have changed a single thing. I appreciate these quiet tears, knowing that my greatest achievement will always be the honor of being part of US forever.

Within the darkness of totality, I’m soon struck by the discomfort I feel, not knowing when the moonlight may return. We’ve all heard how dark it is before the dawn, yet it still feels natural to consider things that have not gone to plan. Accepting past failures, broken relationships, and the future challenges we may face was not an expected emotion, but perspective determines how we respond. I’m thankful that it’s hard to think of anyone who may need to hear this, but if I’ve ever wronged you in anyway, I want to say that I am sorry and only wish the best for you.

As the first sliver of moonlight returns, eminence joy and assuring enthusiasm seemed to rush over my mind and body. It was as if the light of our cherished moon had never been brighter. The subsiding shadow of our planet slowly released moonlight back into the night sky, which lit renewed optimism for all that is still to come.

I am so blessed to have brewed 40 remarkable years into this life. As the full moon shown brighter than ever, so will my appreciation for all that we share.

39

It’s my 39th birthday!

I love using birthdays to reflect on what was learned, trying something new, or appreciating memorable moments from the past year. I also like to craft recaps (e.g. 33rd birthday / 2014 recap) for my future self to read. This year, YDNTB is quite the relic to always remember this moment in my life so instead of a personal narrative highlighting the past, let’s lean into the future by exploring the idea of retirement.

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“Retirement is when you stop sacrificing today for an imaginary tomorrow.” –Naval

I always told myself I wanted to retire in my thirties. Financial advisors are quick to remind us that the golden years of middle class leisure will require around $1 million in savings, but perhaps there’s more to this story.

Yes, the traditional path to retirement is all about earning enough money to cover the burn rate of your life. A second option to realizing financial freedom is to reduce your burn rate to zero, but not many people are cut out to be a monk.

I prefer early retirement in the form of leveraging what you love to do. Similar to what I describe as Career Nirvana, peaceful satisfaction can be achieved when you do something you love so much that it’s not about the money anymore. This doesn’t mean the work stops or that the responsibilities of life fade away. It’s quite the opposite, as more opportunities tend to present themselves when you figure out what you’re best at and map that to what society wants. This forges an abundance of innovative energy you can’t buy. As you collaborate with those who feed off this energy, you soon realize that nobody can compete with being you.

As you build towards such transcendence and realize that a neon future awaits us all, I’ll close with a toast. May the best of your todays be the worst of your tomorrows. Cheers!

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Good, better, best;
Never let it rest,
‘Til your good is better,
And your better is best.