Hi, I'm Rey. Rey Jr. actually. I'm a husband, Dad of three, middle-child to four brothers. My journey through life has spanned just over four decades so far, but I've had powerful reminders recently that what comes tomorrow is never guaranteed.
Ideas that have developed in my mind aren't getting any clearer by sitting there, so this part of the journey is where I get to start sending them out into... not my head? At least somewhere else where they can collide with something and either get better or die a peaceful death.
Greetings From the Middle
If someone were to ask me what it was like being in my 40s in 2021, my experience would largely be influenced from a "middle" perspective. I mentioned my middle-child status, yes? Birth order has debatable effects, but my own experience was a blessing - being able to just observe and step out of the spot light easily. It was a great learning position where I could ask questions about why things (and people) work the way they do.
In 2021, I see myself holding a solid middle position in other ways. If the generational boundaries haven't shifted, I am part of Generation X:
Generation X, or Gen X, refers to the generation of Americans born between the mid-1960s and the early-1980s. Gen Xers, which fall between baby boomers and millennials, number around 65 million. Members of this group are approaching the middle of their working careers and potential peak-earning years. (Source: Investopedia)
This generation falls between the boomers and millennials - extremes in their own ways with values stemming from radically different worlds. Many have highlighted the challenge of workplaces with such generational diversity spanning four generations.
Politics and nearly every institutionalized belief system also seem to be at polar extremes in conflicting views and positions. And I find myself mostly in the middle here too - observing the madness and desperation that seems to make people blind and deaf at those extremes.
I understand the desperation to find a position that is 100% right. We're adapting to a time when our words and actions are more visible and just trying not to be wrong or offensive can feel like navigating a minefield. It can be infuriating. It is tempting to find a defensible position - one with vocal champions who will hold the line for us and shear strength in numbers. But no human-drawn line, boundary, label, or philosophy can ever be 100% right. It is more likely than not that we will find ourselves needing to make difficult choices.
The path forward to better choices, I believe, is in the middle. The middle position gets beat down for not being "enough". But, there is great wisdom here because the goodness that is in the extremes can be chosen and brought forward when the solution matches the problem/situation. It requires a great deal of courage to step beyond the convenient lines and labels - to take responsibility for our own choices under our own names and reputation. It is not easy, but the freedom feels fantastic!
The End is the Beginning
My brothers and I recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of my Dad's passing. The five of us sat at a table for a meal, toasted his memory and his living presence in each of us.
I got to reflect on one of my Dad's most powerful lessons - that I am responsible for what gets into my head. I am responsible for what influences me.
Looking around at my four brothers at that table, I felt blessed that four of the most influential relationships in my life were these men who I love and respect so much. No matter what school, organization, or workplace I travelled through, I always had a source of influence that kept me grounded. Even as I made mistakes (there have been many) and messed up relationships (lots of these too), my family was constant.
Let's get back on track - once I get started on my family, it's hard to stop!
I read my Dad's obituary before I took on the task of writing my own (a sobering and enlightening exercise). I read other obituaries and reflected on my own life and what I want to amount to. I wrote something that I wanted to be mostly true today, tomorrow or years from now. When I finished it, what became clearer to me were the priceless joys that I am enjoying today and the sizeable gap between what I'm actually doing and the small impact I want to have on the world.
So this is another beginning in the middle of my journey. Showing my work. Documenting, not creating. (Thank you, Ali Abdaal for those reminders). Hoping that my journey can help someone else - a Dad, middle-manager, middle-everything, and aspiring entrepreneur with dreams to change the world.