Reaching the halftime of life brings a mix of emotions

Column by Brandon Butler

I turned 40 years old last Friday. I wrote this article the morning of my birthday. And yes, I do feel older.

It’s like I’m in some sort of a daze, wondering how this happened. Just yesterday, my friends and I were bouncing around in a jon boat catching bluegills on cane poles and chasing cottontails with stick bows when our ages consisted of only one number.

Then there was high school and college. Now just a blur. Marriage. How was my wedding 14 years ago? I can still taste the tequila. I had babies. Two of them, but they’re missing and two teenagers are living in their bedrooms.

It’s gone fast. There’s no arguing that. But I recognize how incredibly blessed I have been. First of all, to live in this country. Things are strange right now, but America is strong. We’ll right this ship. We have to. And even though I’m sitting here wondering where the time went, I am thankful that I went through my first 40 years with my eyes and my heart open. I haven’t wasted many days. Have I missed mistakes and missed opportunities? Absolutely. For the most part though, I’m proud of the decisions I have made and the path I have followed to today. I have always placed a strong emphasis on the importance of experiences, not possessions.

Having spent the first half of my life as a pretty serious athlete, I often work through life scenarios with sports analogies. Right now, I feel like I’ve just entered the locker room for halftime. I feel really good about how this game of life is going. When I look up at the scoreboard, I’m ahead at this point in the game, but the work is far from over. Adjustments need to be made and a real strong effort must be put forth if I hope to end this life with the personal satisfaction of feeling like I finished a winner. I feel like I’ve put together a solid game plan to do so, which begins with making a tough decision.

After five years as the executive director of a non-profit conservation organization, I have stepped down to pursue my next opportunity. It’s hard to put into words what the last five years have meant to me. I entered the job as a sportsman but am leaving a conservationist.

For the next chapter of my life, I’ll be working on restoring healthy soil and clean water across the country. I’m joining the team at Roeslein Alternative Energy (RAE) as Director of Communications. RAE has three areas of focus — energy production, ecological services and wildlife, and has found a way to benefit all three with a market-based solution to improve our environment while producing a renewable energy source from animal waste blended with native grasses. Through a process called anaerobic digestion, Roeslein is able to produce a biogas from the mixture of manure and native grass. Not only does this process create renewable energy, it eliminates odor and emissions from waste that otherwise would enter our air and water. Numerous ecological benefits for our landscape and wildlife also occur. The process certainly helps fight climate change. It also creates an additional market for agriculture and benefits rural economies in numerous ways.

Coming out of the locker room for the second half of this game called life, I want to build a big lead in the third quarter so I can relax a little in the fourth. I’m so thankful for the countless blessings of family, friends and experiences that have made my life so rich to this point. You know who you are. Thank you.

Most of my best times have been spent outdoors, and I have enjoyed sharing those experiences with you over the 13 years this column has been continuously published. From the cornfields of Indiana, to great expanses of the Rocky Mountains, to the Gulf of Mexico, to the California Coast, to the rivers of the Ozarks and everything in between, this country of ours offers far more beauty than any one person can experience in a lifetime, but I’m giving it my best shot.

See you down the trail…




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