So this is middle age?

I’m in my mid-30’s now and the overwhelming majority of men my age are pretty risk-off. As you’d expect – we’re not 18-years-old anymore – we now have “careers,” families, life insurance policies and all that baggage jazz. The vast majority of our 4am partying and globe-trotting days are behind us, and we’re now largely in search of comfort, stability, and a measure of material luxury.

But not all of us. Some of us are still doing our damnedest to internalise “YOLO.”

Like really internalise it.

Not in a necessarily reckless way, mind you – we needn’t fly in helicopters (RIP Kobe), get a vasectomy, ditch our eyeglasses for LASIK,i or stop exercising regularly and eating well – but some of us are still going for quality over quantity for our remaining years on this earth. Now you might be wondering, since textbook YOLO is typically the preserve of drunk-driving youfs about to wrap themselves around trees, how are bread-winning(-if-newly-so)-fathers-of-two supposed to compete with insanity-on-a-stick like that?

Well, by staying young, of course!ii

To this intuitive end, rather than the all-too-predictable-and-not-particularly-persuasive hair dye, botox, and second wives strategy, some of us who are in the 5th inning of our lives, yours truly included, have whole-heartedly embraced the new modernism and so are regularly confused for either university students by people who don’t know us very well, or homeless men by people who know us much better and want to troll us. But outward appearances ultimately fool only ourselves unless they permeate deeper. A little red sports car (or even a fling with the secretary) does not a reinvigoration of spirit make. Instead, it’s a child-like curiousity (and positivity!) about the world, particularly in such an astoundingly revolutionary moment for global culture such as this, when we’ve been able to ride such fortuitous wavesiii because we were quite simply able to get out of our own ways and remove our blinders (or at least transition from one bubble of selective experience to another), that differentiates the NGMIs from the GMIs. This deeper openness is no minor feat! Or at least it’s exceedingly exceptional in the 30-something-university-educated-upper-middle-income-professional group that is your humble author’s meatspace environs, and even in the formerly-disruptive OG Bitcoin space that he was fortunate enough to graduate from.

But none of this changes the simple fact of the matter that being in our mid-30s is quite close to the typical life expectancy for an adult male just a century or two ago, and that men not much older than us are already on the other side of the grave. And no matter how young we try to make ourselves look or think, we cannot stop change. As Eric Peters, CIO of One River Asset Management, put it in his recent letter “The Case for Quantum Change“:iv

Change is the great constant in human existence. And yet, for reasons we will perhaps never fully understand, we seek its opposite – stability – a state that does not exist. In fact, stability is the one thing we cannot have no matter how hard we strive to secure it. All we can hope to attain is the illusion, so we conjure it, and shelter within. Even still, change finds us, we cannot escape. The passing of another day in a short human life. The gentle shift from summer’s green leaves to September’s hint of yellows, reds. Then one day we find ourselves suddenly old. Engulfed in autumn’s peak.

Which is to say that my own life is probably closer to “September” than I would’ve admitted to myself even a few months ago.v So when The Girl mentioned recently that “y’know we’re middle-aged now,” her off-the-cuff comment hit me with me with an unexpected thud that I’m still slightly reeling from. I haven’t been able to get it out of my head for weeks…

The NFT space that is my current sunrise (gm) and sunset (gn) loves talking about how “we’re still early” and “this is only the first inning” and whatnot but that’s only true for the space, it isn’t true for ANY of us individually. The youngest among us are teenagers and the average age is late-20s or early-30s. Even if we’re optimistic that our brains will be uploaded to the cloud at some point in the next century or two, as I am, that doesn’t permit us to abrogate our responsibility to think beyond this turbulent yet tremendously fun moment.

So now is the time to think in terms of legacy and to start making our dreams come true. And then to dream even bigger, of course, because we can never dream big enough. If Shimon Peres of all people wished he’d dreamed bigger dreams, which he did, then we all have more work to do.

This particular middle needn’t be missing – it’s right here in front of us – and it’s the only one we’ve got.
___ ___ ___

  1. My grandmother, a haematologist, always told me that there’s no such thing as minor surgery, which is why I’m really pretty averse to elective procedures.
  2. Virgil often talks about this when describing his artistic practice: that he’s ultimately in conversation WITH HIMSELF AT 18-YEARS-OLD and it’s just the whole world that’s watching. I can’t help but model this! Virgil is about a decade my senior and he’s still as avant-garde as ever, salt-and-pepper beard and all. I feel that. I want that…
  3. Some of us, incredibly, for the second time in our lives!
  4. The whole paper is well worth a read (link). Eric Peters is clearly one of the most open-minded boomers out there when it comes to digital assets, and isn’t it remarkable how many of these kinds of folks from that generation also happen to be macro investors? Hm, almost like there’s a trend… Anyways this other bit from “The Case for Quantum Change” is very much worth quoting:

    In twelve short years, the blockchain ecosystem has grown to include 6,000+ protocols with a market capitalization over $2 trillion. Many are built to replace something incumbent institutions presently do; only faster, cheaper, and more securely. Some protocols are built to do things we previously considered impossible. Still others do things not previously imagined. Many pioneers have generated the kind of wealth only amassed in periods of great disruption, transition. They are not cashing out; they have only just started. They see a world very different from what has been. They have a revolutionary mindset, a broadening view of what is possible, and the wealth to bring their dreams to life. They are not afraid to fail. Many will of course. But not all. Their spirit is extraordinary, the ambition breathtaking.

  5. I was never the bucket list type because I just thought I’d be able to see and do everything… but will I really make it to Petra? And Fallingwater? And the Hermitage? And and and…? Ya really think?

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