I did something big. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Yesterday was my last day as a postdoc. Bham!

No, I wasn’t fired for inappropriate comments at a brain retreat. There was no walk of shame through the doors of higher education. After 10 years of studying and conducting research at universities, I just decided to make a change.

Wise decision or not, I made it with the help of my father, or at least the lesson I learned from his death. He passed away 6 years ago of a sudden heart attack. He was only 66, and he wore those 66 years like 44. The day he died, he was speeding down a bike path, passing people less than half his age. He wasn’t expecting to go anytime soon; in fact, he was in the midst of a transformation.

It’s easy to think of our parents as static, while we are the ones who grow and change. But of course all of us are constantly changing, and my dad was changing more than most. After 66 years, he was finally ready to take his own scary step. And then he died.

Sixty-six is not a big number. Even 100 is only 5 people’s fingers and toes. Twenty-nine isn’t a big number either, but it’s already on to person number 2, and not much less than half of 66. My point is that every year matters. We all have to delay gratification to achieve our goals; we put in our time going to school, or working and saving money to buy a house. But what about when we delay gratification out of fear? Change is terrifying and often impractical, certainly risky, and momentum is a powerful wind at our backs. We’ll wait just one more year before we take the leap. Then another. We’re on to persons three and four and five.

If you believe like I do that we only live one life, then this is a frightening prospect. My dad’s death made me realize that this possibility was even scarier than the change itself.

So yesterday I leapt. Was it a smart move? Remains to be seen. But I can say this much: I have never been so excited in all my life.

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