Birthdays, World Views and the Game Plan to Bring it All Home

[Editor's Note: This could be the most personal post I've ever written. Forgive the number of "I"s throughout. But it's my hope you might connect with this in some way and use it to help yourself navigate similar hurdles in your life. Transparency and authenticity are important to me.]

Backpacking in the White Mountains“The way is not in the sky. The way is in the heart.” ~ Buddha

Yesterday was my birthday. I turned 37.

I was hoping to use this as an occasion to bring you my first video post, but a snafu at the last moment (firewire ports/cables have changed shape in the last few years?) put an end to that. As I think ahead, video will likely become an important part of The New Pursuit. It adds a dimension of connectivity and humanness that I feel is needed at this moment; a bridge to deepen relationships and practically speaking, show things instead of writing about them. More to come.

Reflections and Contemplations

Birthdays have always been that time of year where I go deep, reflecting on the past year and contemplating the next. It seems more natural to me than using January 1st as that arbitrary guidepost.

I don’t know how much time left I have on this Earth, but starting my 38th year feels kind of mid-point-ish. And that adds a different kind of filter to my thinking, my feeling and my desire to do my part to better the world.

People who are close to me know that my world view is different than most. I don’t argue that. Where most people would not even bat an eye, I add it to the Weight of the World that I put on my shoulders. When most people would say “Too bad” or “What could I possibly do?”, I say “sign me up”. Where most people hear news in passing, I internalize it in my ever-expanding reservoir of catalysts to spark a revolution. I look at trash and feel emotional pain; I drive by a clear cut swath of forest and cry; I read about failing public policy and economic fallout and scream for justice. I don’t know if this is normal.

This doesn’t always work well when it takes over the finite amount of physical and mental bandwidth you have to be a husband, dad, provider, writer, speaker, community volunteer and any of the many hats I need/want to wear each day.

But the problems of our world are not going away. The symptoms are multiplying and the scars are growing. Our planet is in pain, crying out in collective agony while so many people just walk on by. This is a good example of what I am talking about.

And therein lies the yoke I have put upon myself. The burden I have placed upon my shoulders that challenges every fiber of mindful being. For no matter how much I do and change personally, the collective agony will still be there; the problems continuing to multiply; the clock ticking away towards a future reality that I am afraid is the antithesis of the vision I hold so dear. Deep living for me is not only about personal growth and well-being, but also how I take that and sink the return on those investments into things that can benefit the planet and all beings on it.

The Game Plan

All that said, I must continue forward. Thus, I tend to have a general game plan with a few concrete goals. This 38th year will be no different. However, I feel a sense of momentum on my side; factors coming together to keep the journey moving forward.

Health and Well-being

If I am not physically and mentally strong I can’t be there for anyone, especially my family. That Weight of the World I referenced before will break me, literally. That said, I will focus more attention on activities that keep a fit mind and body and enable the proper perspective on all things. The old adage of “use it or lose it” comes to mind here:

  • Daily mediation, increasing the time I spend sitting; attend my first meditation retreat to deepen my practice
  • Daily physical activity as simple as some push-ups/sit-ups to walks and hikes to bike riding on the weekend; focus on activities where Nature is the backdrop
  • Less time in the car (see next section) and more time outside

“Career”

This is the big one for me. In today’s world, I am out of the house 10-12 hours a day commuting and working for someone and something that while important (e.g., it puts food on our table and a roof over our heads), does not provide me with a lot of personal satisfaction. I want to provide for my family AND be working on all those aforementioned problems full-time. Here is the resulting focus as I continue to lay the groundwork for a full transition to my ultimate career as a full-time writer, speaker and on-the-ground community change agent:

  • Expand my writing and reach by finding new publishing venues and audiences (ideally, paid)
  • Self-publish an e-book each calendar quarter (my first, a free e-book of meditations and reflections, will ship in March) to put more practical help in more hands
  • Do more public speaking (again, ideally paid)
  • Network within circles that are blurring the line between business and social change; explore a possible career “bridge” into such a company
  • Continue volunteer work that puts me on the front line of community change and growth

Boosting Self-Sufficiency

Maybe it’s my homesteading itch or just a yearning for practical know-how, but I want to keep learning how to do more things on my own and in turn, help others to do the same. This is a big part of my simple living plan. These kinds of things slow us down and help to put us in sync with the natural rhythm of Life.

  • Blow out our vegetable garden this year to maximize our yield through a focus on companion planting, succession planting and soil health
  • Can more of our harvest for consumption through the winter
  • Learn how to save seeds for use the following season
  • Build a new chicken coop and start a new flock (for eggs and manure)
  • Continue to grow our emergency preparedness ‘stockpile’
  • Launch a suburban ‘homesteaders’ group to bring the community together for learning and sharing.
The Keys to Success

The keys to all of this will be patience, perspective and fostering an environment that enables small wins along the way to propel the momentum. To look at things through the lens of mindfulness so as to not become overwhelmed and stymied. To continue to use time and resources wisely. To keep my priorities straight and in focus at all times. To not shoulder the world’s burdens alone, but to continue to help as many people as possible find ways to make change both big and small so that we can all be a part of the solution.

Again, I thank each and every one of you who take the time to read, comment and share the words here at The New Pursuit. I appreciate your support more than you can imagine.

Be well,
Bill

Comments
13 Responses to “Birthdays, World Views and the Game Plan to Bring it All Home”
  1. Hi Bill, Thanks for sharing honestly and transparently. Your 38th year looks like a time of significant opportunity and growth. I too see things in terms of my years on earth, which is why I started my one dress protest on my 26th birthday (to last for one year). And honestly, this was the first birthday in my not-teenage-life that I really looked forward to. And I already look forward to the next, in hopes that this time around, I’ll feel noticeably different as I grow older (and hopefully wiser). I trust you’ll feel the same.

  2. Bill Gerlach says:

    Kristy // Thanks for stopping by. Opportunity and growth indeed — all with one step at a time. Your One Dress Protest is an awesome on-the-ground campaign for change. Kudos to you for having the gusto to take a stand and see it though. You will notice a change in one year — and you’ll (and many others will) be all the better for it. Be well!

  3. Bill, Happy Birthday! I think you’re onto some good plans here and I think you’ll put a plan in place to reach these goals over this next year. I wish you the best on your journey! Keep writing the great content! Will look forward to your ebook!

  4. George says:

    Happy Belated Birthday Bill!

    I find the more personal and vulnerable your post, the more engaging it is. Certainly the sort of content that should make it into your e-book. That said, I too am planning the chicken coop for this summer, and perhaps a green house, time permitting. And I anticipate a really good grow season this year, for canning; (We have been going “local-vore” lately). Drop me a line if your ever interested in interviewing or meeting some well practiced homesteaders. Mason, NH has its share of some fantastic professionals, who have dedicated themselves to living green and balanced with the earth.

    Now, where can I read more about this “one dress protest”?

  5. Bill Gerlach says:

    George // Good to hear from you! Thank you. Nice to hear the homesteading adventure continues up in NH. We’ll have to trade notes as the growing season progresses.

    I would highly recommend checking out Christy at onedressprotest.com — great mission and vibe all around.

  6. Bill Gerlach says:

    Bryan // Many thanks. I appreciate the well-wishes. Be well!

  7. Lynn Fang says:

    Happy Birthday, Bill! Thanks for your open honesty. I think the future belongs to those who do blur the line between ‘business’ and ‘social change’. If we want to keep doing business while conserving resources, we will eventually have to evolve in this direction. I hope you get in touch with some of those people, I’ll keep an eye out for you! :)

  8. Jennifer says:

    Happy birthday, Bill! It sounds like it’s going to be one heck of a year for you. I’m with you on the career thing. For two years I worked at a marketing job I hated, and just last week, I handed in my resignation. I don’t have a new job lined up; instead, I’m going to take a little time for myself to figure out what makes me happy and see if I can make any money doing it. (Fear and hope are both at work here.)

    I wish you all the luck in your new adventures and look forward to reading your ebook.

  9. I too use my birthday as a time for introspection, reflection and planning for the future. It just feels natural before beginning anew.

    Your self sufficiency plans sound wonderful. I find myself living in a condo now instead of my house with yard. I had many similar plans now put on hold. I’m hoping for a community garden plot this year so I can at least do some gardening. I look forward to reading about your adventures. ~ Kat

  10. Bill Gerlach says:

    Kat // Thanks. I’m glad there is someone else out there using birthdays in the same way! You can’t beat a community garden — the vibe, the community, the food and flowers. They are just wonderful! I hope you can score a plot!

  11. Bill Gerlach says:

    Jennifer // Thanks. Wow, that’s quite the step! Congrats. I think it’s great that you are creating the time and environment to look inward and figure out your next move — fear and hope can be powerful catalysts! I look forward to reading more at NE2BG. Be well!

  12. Bill Gerlach says:

    Lynn // Thanks so much (and sorry for the late reply!)! That whole intersection of business and social change is one that just feels like a logical fit given all my experiences. There are a few things in the cooker and I’m really optimistic that a few will work out. Stay tuned!

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