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When I'm old

It was my great aunt's wake and the debate in my mind was this: would my grandmother and her sister be (a) hugging each other in the afterlife, (b) fighting or (c) ignoring each other. In all probability they probably would be doing option (d) -- cycle through a through c, play bingo. Repeat.

That's how the women in my maternal line roll.

My great aunt died at age 90 over the weekend. She was my maternal grandmother's sister. The two of them spent the majority of their life (well, at least the part of their lives where I existed) fighting with each other. Together, they combined passive-aggressiveness, guilt and stubbornness into a finely tuned piece of art such that the traits should be retired from human consciousness for the rest of time. (Not that I learned a sense of hyperbole from either of them, either.)

Death has a way of refocusing your thoughts, shuffling them around and bringing old ideas and memories to the forefront. And so I thought a lot about my grandmother the past few days. And with that came a great sense of gratitude.

That bike ride on a hot, misty evening was a gift. So was the slow run early in the morning. Even those sore shoulders from the return to weight training counted as a gift.

It was really just a simple observation of gratitude -- one for my health and the other for my passion.

I train and compete in triathlon because I can. Because I have the health to do it. It might be part of a chicken-and-egg syndrome. Am I healthy because I train or can I train because I am already healthy? Either way, the two play off each other. And I am in position to let the wealth grow in both -- a position too valuable to squander.

But in answering the question, why do you do triathlon, it's not just because I physically can. It's also because, well, I want to.

Health, wellness and sports have always been a huge part of my being. They are among the things I'm passionate about. In training and racing, I've found a perfect match for my passion and desire on multiple levels.

And while basic health was on my mind so too was the thought of passion.

My great aunt, well, I don't know what she was passionate about exactly but the way in which she and my grandmother used to alternately love and hate each other shows that they both had oodles of it. Perhaps misdirected, but they certainly had passion.

For me, in this moment of my life, my passion is for running, cycling and swimming. My passion is in training and all the things it gives me in life -- a circle of friends whom I adore, health, strength, focus, opportunity.

Perhaps the specific outlet of my passion will change in a few years. But the specifics aren't what's important. It doesn't much matter if your passions lead you to an Ironman or to finishing a 5K. It doesn't much matter if your passions lead you elsewhere, perhaps to another educational degree, a new language, a new style of cooking a new hobby or business opportunity.

What matters is enjoying what you do, have a sense of gratitude and dream even bigger.

When I was deciding about some big races to enter, some big goals and big dreams that frankly scared me in their bigness, my friend Sue offered me some great advice. She told me that when I'm old and in my rocking chair, what kind of stories do I want to tell? What kind of life do I want to have to reflect back on and life over again?

It couples nicely with a quote I recently stumbled upon:

When I'm old, I don't want them to say of me, "She's so charming." I want them to say, "Be careful. I think she's armed."

It might just be a pretty good description of my grandmother and her sister.

And it's something that I'm aspiring to.

--- Amy Moritz
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