Today is my birthday. I’m 24 years old.

Writing that feels strange, because today feels just like any other day. I woke up at five o clock, showered, meditated, worked out and then read and journaled for a while like usual. It doesn’t feel like a birthday. After “the big two one,” birthdays aren’t something you look forward to as much, but there are a couple of things I still love about them.

I love that I usually get to spend extra time with my wife, children and the rest of my family on my birthday. I have recently learned that time with family and friends is something I value more than almost anything. I love listening to each other’s stories, playing games and just growing closer together. These are times that I took completely for granted growing up when I had so much free time and I truly miss them. So it feels extra special any time I am able to hang out with them.

The other thing I love about birthdays is that they force me to think about my life. They remind me that statistically, I am a certain percentage finished with my life on Earth. This is a sobering, yet exciting thought for me. The average male who lives in Michigan, USA lives to be seventy-five years, two hundred and fifty-one days, twenty hours and twenty four minutes old. 

I did the math and I am thirty-two percent finished with my life as of today. I try as hard as I can to be a glass-half-full sort of person whenever possible. So I decided that instead of thinking about the thirty-two percent that is over, I am going to focus on the sixty-eight percent that is yet to be passionately lived.

My first twenty-four years have been incredibly good. God has blessed me richly and I have learned to be so thankful for everything I have. I was able to grow up in a good, loving home, graduate High School with pretty good grades, get my photography certification, marry my dream girl, have two beautiful boys, start three successful businesses, advance in a full time job for the Michigan Treasury Department, purchase our dream home in the country on twenty acres, become involved in a local church that loves God and people with a passion and see my family grow through it all. 

I am reminded today of how good my life has been, but also that it could end any day. Life is not a guarantee. Every day we as humans drive sixty miles per hour in a vehicle only inches away from traffic that is traveling the opposite direction at the same speed. One small mistake could be the end. The way we eat in America causes most of us to be at a high risk of heart problems. People take a lot of different vitamins and medicine every day. One mistake at the factory where those pills are made could be how you go out. (Side note: medical errors is the third leading cause of death world wide.) There are so many ways that life could end unexpectedly. I don’t say these things to sound like a paranoid necrophobe; I am only saying that life is a fragile thing and it could end at any moment. I have made the commitment to live my life to the fullest. I wasted a lot of time in high school and in my early twenties. I am just now realizing how precious life is.

This is not dress rehearsal, people!
— Dale Partridge

Have you ever thought about that? We each get one shot at this! (Unless you believe in re-incarnation…. In which case, I wish you the best of luck in your next life as a dung beetle.) I hear so many people say that they aren’t sure what to do with their lives. They can’t find their passion. They go to school because that’s what our culture tells them to do. They get a job to pay off their hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. They buy a house and make payments on it for thirty years, paying more than double what the house is worth in interest. If they ever actually pay it off, they might squeak by with a small pension (if they’re lucky) or a 401k with a small monthly distribution for them to spend until they die. None of these things are inherently bad or wrong, but do you ever wonder if there is a bigger meaning and purpose for your life?

There are thousands of people out there leading lives of quiet, screaming desperation, where they work long, hard hours at jobs they hate to enable them to buy things they don’t need with money they don’t have in order to impress people they don’t even like.
— Nigel Marsh

I write all of this to say one thing: don’t waste your life. Find something that you are passionate about and that will help the world, and then do it. Do it every single day for the rest of your life. If you have entrepreneurial tenancies like me, you might have several things you want to do every day. That’s fine! Just find purpose in your life and live it out day by day.

You never know how many more birthdays you will have. Don’t waste your life.

Stay Awesome,


Ethan

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