It only took 40 years

40 years seems like a long time, until you live it.  And then, looking back, it doesn’t seem so long.  Perhaps its my memory playing tricks on me, but 40 years of experiences, adventures, events, and occasions wrap themselves up into a mesmerizing whole of my life.

Today, I turn 40 years old.  And yet I don’t feel like I thought 40 would feel like.  When I was a kid, 40 was “Over the hill”.  Over the hill?  That’s crazy!  I have only just begun.  There is so much more to my life.  If anything, I might call it Phase 1. But because it’s my birthday, I wanted to take a moment and reflect on the past and plan for the future.  If you want to join me on journey, please keep reading.

The Past 40

“Alas, eleventy-one years is far too short a time to live among such excellent and admirable hobbits.” ~ Bilbo Baggins

Growing up in the country with little but my imagination to keep me entertained, I became a very thoughtful and considerate yet introverted person.  I became a math and science nerd, placing highly in a few local and state competitions.  From my dad, I developed my love of running.  He ran a couple of miles every other day, and I would sometimes join him.  In high school, I ran Track and Cross Country, though I was never good enough to make varsity. Genetics and all. But it did lead me into triathlons and eventually a marathon.

What I remember about high school is that I developed two things that seem core to my personality.  First, I was always smiling.  I loved life and I loved the people in it. I’ve been fortunate to have great friends in my life, many of whom are still friends –  Jobee, Nate, David, Jeff, Mat, Kelly, Ron, Nate, Dan, Heather, Mark, Brian, Alex, Amy, Robert, Jyothi, John, Alleah, Gerald, Melissa, Will, Yuliya, Alan, Tami, and many, many more (please don’t feel slighted if I forgot your name. I’m writing off the cuff here).  Though, from all my moving, it gets harder and harder to stay in touch with everyone. I’ve also have some awesome family members, like my brother Mark and sister Amy, my cousins Aaron, Mathew, Rebecca, Karah, Krista, Kim, Peter, Luke, and Frank, my aunts and uncles, my nieces Nikki and Brownwyn, and nephews Steven and Adam.  My parents raised me with the core values and virtues that I still hold dear today. Without them, I wouldn’t have become the man I am.  And more recently, my kids. And most important of all, my wonderful and amazing wife Brenda.  They bring a constant joy to my life.

Second, I developed a passion for personal excellence.  Even in high school I was interested in personal improvement, to make my life the most meaningful, accomplished, yet awesome life possible.  That’s why in college, I picked one of the hardest majors, Physics.  That’s why Ayn Rand’s philosophy and books enthralled me. That’s why after college, web development appealed to me, for the challenge of learning to code and do graphic arts.  That’s why I pursued a PhD in Management Information Systems.  That’s why I started my website  Through it all, I wanted a full enriching life.  Certainly, I’ve made some mistakes over the years, but I learn from them and move on.

And now as an academic, I’m loving life. This is the perfect career for me, to teach some amazing bright and engaged students and to research about technology, business, and ethics. In the past 8 years, I’ve learned to write, both obtuse academic prose and worldly blog posts for the masses.  Now, I’m mastering the art of writing for a textbook. Good times.

I could take the time to complain about all the little things, like my sore back, my sleep issues, or living in an world where Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton are our two major presidential nominees (ugh!).  But I won’t.

As I look back, I see a long list of things I’ve done and accomplished.  Part of me is really proud of those accomplishments.  The other part of me looks and sees so much more I have to look forward to.

The Next 40

“Achievement of your happiness is the only moral purpose of your life, and that happiness, not pain or mindless self-indulgence, is the proof of your moral integrity, since it is the proof and the result of your loyalty to the achievement of your values.” ~ Ayn Rand

Now that I’m turning 40, there are two major work related things I’m hoping to accomplish this year.  First, I go up for promotion and tenure.  This September, I will submit my packet to the faculty, highlighting everything I’ve accomplished at ECU this past 5 years.  For me, the tenure is less important than the promotion.  I’m not that interested in tenure and if it went away tomorrow, I probably wouldn’t change my behavior at all.  I would continue doing exactly what I have been doing.  But the promotion part means more.  It’s a vote from all the faculty in my department that I am performing with excellence in my job.  Not that I need that vote to know I’m doing good things, but they do provide external validation that I am objectively on the right track.  And that does mean something. I work with some great people, so I value their opinions.

Secondly, I hope to finish my textbook.  I’ve been working on it for almost a year now, learning how to write for students, which is more challenging than I first thought.  But I’m ready to start cranking through the remaining chapters and finish with a brilliant new book that will better guide students through e-commerce classes. My goal is to acquire 20% of the textbook adoptions in e-commerce classes within 5 years.  Doable, right?

In my personal life, I hope to really enjoy the puppy we’re getting soon. In spite of my quietness about it, I’m really looking forward to having the little thing in our house.  I’m also starting to learning Spanish – cause why not.  I really have no idea if I’ll travel to a Spanish speaking country any time soon, but I want to expand my verbal skills, and this seems like a fun way to do so.

At this point in my life though, I want fewer goals but more experiences with enjoying life.  That might mean more trips.  That might mean more hanging with friends.  It might mean just sitting and reading more.  Perhaps this is an age thing, but I’m starting to appreciate all of the things that bring me the most joy and happiness and to discard everything else.  If there is anything you can expect from me over the next 40 years, it will be more smiles, more meaningful living, and more creations of great things to share with the people around me.  More than that, I cannot say (or will not in this post).

If there is one lesson that I could share with the world, it’s that “Life is good, because I choose to make it so.”

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1 Response

  1. I love reading this. You were a great professor and are a humble human being. I greatly enjoyed some of our class discussions this past spring Doctor Drake!

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