35,000 days of possibility

I have a son. Those are the four biggest words I’ve ever spoken. He is 7 weeks old. The ramifications are immense; the possibilities are limitless. Over the course of his lifetime, he will grow roughly 15 times his current size. He will know love and pain, triumph and tragedy, joy and heartache. At least he will if we do our job well and he lives a full, passionate life. His mother is supremely fit and a walking testament to the benefits of circulatory exercise. He has, therefore, been blessed with the benefits of a healthy heart, head and body, and is off on a great adventure which should last — for any of us, if we’re lucky — for approximately 35,000 glorious days.

Making the most of those days and nights is an opportunity to satisfy incalculable curiosity and to relish simple efforts and accomplishments. His learning capacity is tremendous right now, as every day new discoveries lead to further neural activity in his perfect little head. Movements, colors and sounds require immediate investigation, and all that work subsequently leads to deep, peaceful, quiet recoveries and sleep. It is a pattern that we could all maintain for many years, but instead we often choose the path of least resistance or the comfortable way. Shake it up. What about trying ballroom dancing in your 50s, or seeing if a triathlon in your 60s feels as fun as it looks? Read a novel, grab a book of crossword puzzles or Sudoku and exercise that brain.

The evolution of man is ongoing and the research on brain activity is irrefutable. Early and constant stimulation of all lobes of the brain enhances neural transmission. Cardiovascular exercise, even later in life, can actually restore brain function. You have to nourish that head of yours daily. Both intellectual and emotional workouts are required. Think and love, laugh and live. There is still so much out there to understand.

My hope is that our son will learn early on that kindness is not always the popular choice, but it is the only choice. Extending a hand to someone else actually picks you both up. You can’t control the outcome, but you can control the effort. Education and motivation are brothers, and one propels the other through good times and bad.

When was the last time that you attempted something new? Stretching the parameters of what we think we are capable of does take a certain toughness, a fearlessness which we see every day in the gym as people constantly ask, “Do you think that’s something I could do?” Role models abound, and you only need look closely at your neighborhood to discover that there are artists and educators, athletes and poets, architects and visionaries. Tap into it. Ask questions, and find out why something works. Remember when your kids drove you crazy with the “why’s”? That is not just filling the air with sound; that is the brain at work, seeking an explanation to the fundamental mystery of things. Ask “why” until it drives your friends crazy, and then ask them why they are acting crazy.

A newborn’s physiology is explosive, as blood cells are constantly forming and calcium is layered repeatedly to allow for skeletal growth and fortification. That all needs to be constantly nurtured and stimulated with circulatory and weight-bearing exercise throughout our lifetime, but at the epicenter of all activity is the brain. Western society tends to divide the brain and body and treat each as a separate entity, but each is comprised of living, breathing, interwoven tissues and organs that need fulfilling interaction in order to blossom.

Reaching into the complexities and balances of mathematical adaptation, written and verbal communication, and emotional depth are what makes each of us unique. Motivation and confidence are born from free thought and discovery. None of that is possible if we play it too safe. I have had the opportunity to discuss some of these ideas with my son as we stroll around Bellevue, bundled up against the brisk evening, giving my wife a chance to catch her breath after a busy day. He fits snugly against my chest, is a good listener and eventually just nods off. I am sure it is nothing personal, yet it is all so beautifully personal.

I have a son.

Islander Bryan Welch is the co-owner of Club Emerald.

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