My name's Dave. I'm working on it.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

On (Not) Looking Back

The clock ticks midnight, and my inner calender turns another page.
I am become 27.
Do I really buy that line? Click, and I'm 27 now? It's silly to think of age like that.
In fact, today marks the end of my 27th year of life, and the beginning of my 28th. 27 is over. I didn't start at 1 year after I was born... But I imagine that's a bit more conversation than anyone wants to hear when they ask how old you are.
That said, I do have a few thoughts in the way of reflection.
In the past, whenever a birthday rolled around, it entailed a general sense of depression over how little I had done with my life thus far, how much time was lost or wasted, etc. And while I still feel that sting, it's slighter than in years past. And, as I'm answerable only to myself, it's easier to shrug off the idea that I have to accomplish some imagined set of goals by some arbitrary age. Also, it's easy to forget, or diminish in stature, the things you have already accomplished, the ways you've grown, and so on. Not all change is tangible.
I do struggle with the reality that I'll be 30 in a mere 3 years, which is really just the blink of an eye. 30? I can't wrap my head around it. I've been in my twenties for decades, it seems. Then again, I have several friends who are in their thirties, and I think of them as being in their twenties as well, which is to say: they are On The Level and not at all the "thirtysomethings" one might see in some mediocre sitcom, with all those middle-age life-crises and such. They're not all that different from me. I relate to them easier than I relate to your average 19-year old.
(Ah. After checking in with Wikipedia, I realize that there was a show by that very name, which likely had a great deal to do with creating these stereotypes about age. I may be dating myself here by admitting that it was before my time, but there you are.)
I think that, when the time comes, it won't bother me in the least to be thirty. I remind myself that Thom Yorke and Beck (a fellow Cancerian) are in their thirties and are still rocking like hell. That Neil Gaiman was well into his thirties when he finished writing The Sandman. And so on. Any silly notions I have about the effects of "turning" thirty dissolve under the first bit of scrutiny.
But that's neither here nor there. The point is this: getting older is, despite all of the things I've mentioned, just wonderful. I have felt the fire of youth cool over the past few years, and I am glad of it. I rebound from adversity more easily now. I don't stress myself out or worry about needless things half as much as I used to. And above all else, I am happier than I ever was when I was young. For all the intensity that came with being younger, I was unhealthily obsessed with feeling miserable and misunderstood. Always full of pride, and always sure of my own baseless superiority. But at what cost? And to what end? Looking back, I now ask the question: if it doesn't serve to bring you joy, what is the point of anything? My purpose is to enjoy my life to the fullest, and all actions and pursuits stem from that root. As I've gotten older, it's become easier and easier to cut loose the things that kept me from that simple truth, and rid myself of all the counterproductive habits I held in my youth.
And that, I think, is the goal. To make each year better than the one before. To become better, wiser, and happier with each successive year, rather than looking back on the so-called golden days of our past.
Finally, I was reminded last night that 27 is the age when I have to either die, or accept that I will never be a rock star. This does present me with a dilemma. Do I age gracefully and quietly for the rest of my years, or crank out a multi-platinum record and then off myself?
I guess I'll have to think about that one. If I am crafty, maybe I can find a middle ground.
In the meantime, here's a song for you to listen to. On one's birthday, it seems appropriate, but the message of the song is good for any occasion.


R.E.M. - World Leader Pretend