On Sunday morning, July 21, 2019, I willingly chose to strap a backpack to myself with a 55-pound sandbag in it and hike across the soft top sand at the beach. This was not a workout, it was a celebration of my 55th trip around the sun. Or so I thought.
I was at my place of birth. On the East coast at a beach house I rent every summer enjoying our vacation and our precious time with family and friends in the loving arms of mother ocean.
It was the day I was to be celebrated for being born into this world.
My somewhat educated guess is, this is not how most people choose to celebrate their 55th birthday or any birthday. Strapping 55 pounds to their back and walking in the hot sand at the beach is probably not on the birthday celebration bucket list. Nor do I encourage anyone to do it or care that I did it.
The truth is for most of my other birthdays, this idea would not only sound stupid to me, but I wouldn’t have been physically able to do it if I wanted to. I completely recognize the absurdity of it, but today I’m deeply grateful for the ability to do it at this age, or any age.
I slowly filled the sandbag by hand with beach. I put the sandbag in the backpack. I put the pack on my back. Put the headphones in my ears and started hiking. One foot in front of the other.
I had a simple plan. Hike 1.5 miles one way. Hike 1.5 miles back. Throw in 100 pushups with the pack on as the ice cream on top of the cake.
Weird ice cream I know.
My present to me. Happy birthday Scott Patrick O’leary. Congratulations on having the honor and privilege to be here on this and the other 20,075 days before it.
What I didn’t plan for was the real gift arriving during those 3 miles. A true birthday surprise party. What jumped out of the darkness and into the light was the truth.
Sometimes I go empty mind, pure zen, just breathing. No thoughts, No worries. No past. No future. Just one step after another in a meditative hum.
Sometimes I get a message. I’m not sure where it comes from, but my guess is in midst of these hard physical moments I somehow wake up my true subconscious self. That me tells me truths I don’t usually want to hear but am somehow openly receptive to within physical suffering.
I usually just listen. This is what I heard.
Over 5 years ago I wouldn’t have been able to do what I was doing that morning, physically or mentally. Absolute truth from the voice, I heard and accepted that fact with humility, not pride.
I most likely would have been hungover on this day. I would have celebrated my birthday with the timeless, socially acceptable and self destructive ritual of getting drunk. Or the socially acceptable excuse too, not that I needed one. Truth, I didn’t need one but when given the opportunity I took full advantage of it. Historically I didn’t do much when I was hungover but waste my precious time suffering all day long from “having fun.”
Over 5 years ago, I was also 185 pounds. I was already lugging around 35 extra pounds of bad living, eating and thinking.
Truth. Over weight, unhealthy, out of shape, disrespectful and ungrateful in every way possible to the gift of my physical self. Completely sober I would have struggled just to carry myself that distance in the sand without a backpack. Another truth I fully accept with humility and zero pride.
The voice was just getting warmed up. Here comes the real truth, the shit I really needed to hear.
What had really been weighing me down and preventing me from doing what I am currently doing in my life today, or want to do, were things much heavier.
I was carrying depression.
I was carrying darkness.
I was carrying anger.
I was carrying my bloated ego.
I was carrying self-pity.
I was carrying excuses.
I was carrying selfishness.
I was carrying my mistakes.
I was carrying the effects of physically and mentally drinking 4-5 days a week.
I was carrying the weight of bad choices.
I was carrying negativity.
I was carrying the weight of conflict with myself and others.
I was carrying the weight of the toxic things I put in my mouth and into my mind.
I was carrying the past.
I was carrying shame, guilt, and a giant pile of denial and the only thing I was not carrying was one ounce of accountability for doing this all to myself.
I was a victim. Self-created, self-medicated, full of self-pity victim.
From my perspective on the beach a 55-pound pack was nothing compared to the weight I carried around everyday for 35 years. I did not understand their weight until I started the daily lifelong process of letting them go.
Discipline and accountability have been the doors to that freedom. Discipline sounds hard and not fun. I tried undisplined for a very long time. I suffered way more under its tyranny. I will take discipline any day, all day.
Accountability is hard. Owning your shit is the opposite of fun. It’s humbling and it doesn’t usually feel good. But at least it is truth. Denial isn’t fooling anyone but yourself. Everyone around you knows, its just you pretending everyone doesn’t.
Those burdens I willingly carried around on my back 24 /7. and I refused to drop them. I suffered much more in denial.
I can’t train hard enough to suffer the way I used to. Truth from the voice.
Some may think I’m crazy to celebrate my birthday this way. That’s perfectly okay, I recognize and accept that. It kinda is.
I celebrated a lot of birthdays the more traditional way.
I will take the weighted back pack every time.
If I’m going to carry heavy shit I would much rather it be sand.
I am so happy you have chosen your new path! You are truly a Warrior!💙 love you!
I’m grateful I walked both. I like this one better. But I have the perspective of both of them. I’m glad I am where I am. I feel incredibly humbled and fortunate. It’s much more peaceful here. Love your face!
Oh my Lord in heaven. I’m sobbing and smiling at the same time. You have this ability to take us with you whenever you write. I felt like I was on the beach. I have not been with you in your old life but I’m damn lucky to be in your new pack for this leg of the journey. Grateful for you my friend. Your words men the world to me. ❤️
Thank you for your love, support, and friendship. I’m so grateful. Thank you for just seeing me and allowing me space to grow and learn with out judgement or malice. I’m so grateful to be in your orbit. Love your face. 🙏
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Love your face my friend. I grow every day by learning from you and about you.
Thank You so much for sharing your journey. I truly enjoyed reading it. I’m so glad you found your way. With Love & Peace, Josephine
Thank you 🙏 for reading and your very lkind words. I’m very grateful. Namaste 🙏
Thank you for being raw, real, and true! They may mean all the same to most but to me, your Rawness brings me hope. Your Realness brings me faith. Last your Truth brings me light. Hope that many who struggle can learn from your Raw words, turn their lives into something that gives them the Faith in themselves to stay strong and not give up. Your Truth turns on a light in my eyes and I hope in others who need it.
So, Thank you, Mr. O’Leary, for your Bad ASS 55 Self for inspiring us to be the best we can be! You Rock!
Thank you 🙏 for reading and your very kind words. I accept them with deep gratitude. We are all teachers. We are all students. Thank you for allowing me in your orbit. Namaste
Man, this rings true to me. Happily sober going on 4 years. What you write is a great reminder of work yet to do.
Thank you for sharing.
First. Congratulations on 4 years of sobriety. That is an amazing accomplishment and a gift to you and everyone that loves you.
Second. Thank you 🙏 for reading this.
I always hope when I write something it isn’t just me doing it in a act of self healing that maybe something will resonate with another human out there.
It sounds like something in here did and that is humbling and adds much purpose to my life.
Thank you for taking the time and care to write what you wrote.
Well said my birthday brother. Carry on.
Thank you Joey. Much love. Carry on for sure. You too.
Scott—God put you on earth for many reasons. One of which is to inspire others. You are, truly, an inspiration and I am quite sure that, in you, God is well pleased.
Mike. Thank you for reading anything I write. Very kind and much appreciated. Thank you for your kind words. I’m just so grateful you told your story and I get to be in your orbit. They are both gifts.
Your words carry much weight because I know how much your faith means to you and how it guides your life and who is in it. So from my heart. Thank you for your very kind words. Inspiration is a two way street. Thank you for all you have given to me. Much love brother.
Happy (late) 55th Birthday, my friend. I’m continually happy that the universe decided to cross our paths years ago. You’re an inspiration.
Thank you for the birthday wish.
Thank you for reading anything I write.
Very grateful for both of these acts of kindness.
But honestly thank you from the bottom of my heart for having so much kindness and forgiveness to even allow me into your orbit.
I didnt deserve it. But you found space to allow me in. The universe didn’t own this one. You do.
You allowed our paths to cross when I was a human who did not deserve that privilege.
Thank you for allowing me that grace.
You are the inspiration my brother.
Your have a superhero heart.
Amazing revelations Scott—and well told! It’s inspiring how you’ve embraced the mental and physical discipline it takes at this point to follow a new adventure. In a past life, I knew you as a person of remarkable integrity and discipline in your work. So it doesn’t surprise me all that much that you have applied that energy elsewhere. It’s a beautiful thing to feel strong and walk with a light step at 55 and beyond. So here’s a Gatorade toast to your health and happiness.
Jon, thank you 🙏 for reading anything I write. I’m very grateful. I deeply appreciate your kind words about where my path finds me today. It’s very humbling to read these words. Also it’s insanely kind that you have journeyed back in time and recognized the effort I put into my career. Most people within this business of advertising never share words like you just gifted me with. My work has a much broader and more expansive landscape than it did back then. But the words integrity and discipline are words that carry much weight. Thank you for sharing those with me. I raise my water bottle filled with tailwind to you brother. I offer you back much peace, happiness, joy and health today, tomorrow and every day you have the honor to be here. Much much love. Thank you for sharing yours with me. Namaste 🙏
Scott, your honesty and self-awareness is inspiring to me. And it makes me happy that you are happy with where you are at 55. Keep writing. Keep inspiring. Keep walking.
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Thank you 🙏 for reading anything I write. Thank you for you selfless support and acceptance. I’m very grateful to be in your orbit. You are a amazing human being. Namaste 🙏 brother.