Things To Do Before You Die

Are you surprised I haven’t written about my tattoo, yet?

I mean, I’m surprised.

It’s been over two months and this is exactly the type of personal anecdote that I would rhapsodize about and attempt to turn into an overwrought parable as if I were some middle-aged Aesop.

I’m not sure the reason behind my delay. Typically I can’t play it cool even when I do something cool.

But don’t despair. Even though I haven’t shared my thoughts on the matter with you until now believe you me that I have been thinking about and giving meaning to this rebellious act that has been 25 years in the making.

For context, I’ve wanted to get inked since my early twenties and I’ve oscillated on the idea ever since. My wife – rightly so – got tired of me talking about it.

“Either do it, or shut up about it,” to paraphrase her.

So I did the research, signed up for an appointment and, three weeks prior to my 50th birthday, I put my right forearm under the needle and got a colorful American Traditional piece that I am very happy with.

I had built up the event so much I was expecting it to be a borderline spiritual experience but, ultimately, it was very ordinary. I essentially laid down on a table for the better part of three hours, absorbing some pain while being surrounded by a bunch of guys discussing college sports and campsites.

As mentioned, I’ve been rolling over the hesitation, decision and ultimate action in my brain and I’ve come up with a list of potential meanings longer than a CVS receipt.

But I think ultimately it all boils down to one thing: we all want to feel, experience and realize things we deem as important to us while we have the opportunity to do so.

To state that more succinctly in my personal case here, I wanted to get a tattoo while I had the chance and it still felt relevant to me.

Or, to really cut to the chase, I wanted to do something cool before I die.

I know, I know. This all sounds grandiose at best and morbid at worst. And, no, I don’t plan on dying soon. And also, no, getting a tattoo is not the greatest accomplishment to add to one’s list of life adventures.

But I do think the lesson is relevant. Ultimately why we do anything is that we want that thing to be part of our lives while it can. And when you have a huge life event or a tragedy or, in my case, a milestone birthday, it is much easier for that thing to be brought to the forefront.

This is why nothing – NOTHING – riles me up more than meeting with a potential client who could really benefit from our training program and have them walk away with an “I’ll think about it.”

Think about what? You’ve been wanting to feel strong, healthy, empowered, courageous, sexy, capable (insert your own personal descriptor here) your whole life. What are you waiting for?

Here is the poignant and hopefully inspirational reality that you won’t find in your google-searched motivational quote accompanied by a picture of a roaring lion designed to help you for an instant want to take control of your life: one day it will be too late.

There is ultimately a last day in the gym for all of us. No one has been able to escape that yet. And, yes, training into your 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond is not only possible, I’d argue it is absolutely essential. I’m planning on doing it.

But just as true is that the time to maximize those feelings and results we listed above exists in a finite window. Very few avid gym-goers hit lifetime PRs later in life. No one wins the Olympics when they are 60. There is a reason Schwarznegger isn’t competing in this year’s Olympia.

I’m here begging you not to miss your chance.

As the old saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is today.

Thinking is a wonderful, powerful and worthwhile endeavor. Only bested by actually taking action. It’s time to step up to the plate.

I already set up my next tattoo appointment for the Fall (Sorry Mom! We can talk about it later).

When I told my wife about it she asked why I had set up the appointment so soon after the first one.​

I think the answer is this. When you realize what it is you want to be you want that thing to start as soon as possible.

At the very least, even if I’m wrong, it sure beats sitting on my hands and thinking about it.