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I ran

  • By Clay Neely
  • |
  • May. 11, 2021 - 2:57 PM

I ran

Clay Neely is co-publisher and managing editor of The Newnan Times-Herald. He can be reached at

Well, I did it. Despite my decision to forgo my annual birthday jog, I sucked it up and did it anyway.

As a compromise, I decided to do it the day after my birthday. It was a Monday, I was going to the gym anyway, why not just get it done?

So that’s what happened. I jumped on a treadmill, knocked out three miles. Well, "knocked out” is a pretty strong choice of words. It took me over 30 minutes, but it got done.

It’s officially in the books.

My change of heart really came down to two things: I’m a sucker for tradition, and I realized I don’t want to get into the habit of quitting.

As I get older, it doesn’t seem to make sense to start limiting my options. If I can do something that benefits my mind and body, I want to keep doing it.

It was probably twenty years ago I was on vacation with a friend when I mentioned that, no matter what, I’d never wear khaki shorts and polo shirts. I assumed I’d wear Levi’s and T-shirts until I shuffled off this mortal coil.

The fact that I’m sitting here, writing this column wearing khakis and a polo at 44 should tell me something. At age 24, my values system was far different than what it is now, and second, I was way too young to make blanket statements like that.

The older I get, the more I want to see, know and explore. At 24, I was still consumed with self and creating a “brand” for myself, based on what I didn’t like or want out of life.

It's mighty contradictory thinking that by limiting my possibilities, I would get more out of life.

I suppose I wasn't the only one with tunnel vision at that age, but I know not I’m alone looking back at a younger version of oneself and chuckling, “Well, bless your heart.”

It never makes sense to beat yourself up over your journey, but it does provide some perspective on what I got right and what I really missed the mark on.

It’s amusing to me I’m more open to new ideas, changes and possibilities now than I was 20 years ago. I guess once you discover life isn’t black and white and doesn’t revolve around you, your options become limitless. Self-imposed restrictions seem silly.

If you have a firm foundation of beliefs and values, there’s no danger in seeing what else is out there.

In my early 20s, I still believed the world revolved around me and my immediate needs. I spent years trying to discover who I was, what I wanted and all that other stuff that comes with the territory of being a young adult.

I used to chuckle at my friends who started having kids at that age. For some reason, I believed they were “throwing their youth away” by having kids in their early 20s and would miss out on all the fun.

Why were they in such a hurry to grow up and become “real” adults with responsibilities?

So I spent my 20s sowing oats and searching for a sense of purpose and happiness that never arrived until, wait for it, I had kids.

Having a family has provided me with more perspective and happiness than I could ever imagine, and those same friends I pitied probably experienced the same thing too, only now, they’re empty nesters in their early 40s.

Who’s laughing now?

Once I discovered that my personal happiness and satisfaction came from being in the service of others, it kicked open the doors to what kind of joy life can bring.

So as I sit here in my khakis, I raise a toast to all the other late bloomers who eventually figured out the same thing.


Clay Neely is co-publisher and managing editor of The Newnan Times-Herald. He can be reached at