Author’s note: I wrote this in February 2013, just two months before my “nerdy 30”. I guess apprehension is something I struggle with in my writing since I haven’t wanted to revisit this post until recently. But something in the last 2.5 years has changed in me, in our lives, and I’m happy to say I’ve survived the descent and am now upside-down in the first of a few loop-the-loops. Thanks for stopping by!
A dark specter looms on the horizon. One that perhaps many of you have confronted. Or one that you are staring down this very moment as I am. Whether you are weak in the knees or firm with a steely spine, this milestone is sure to disrupt the flow you have worked so hard to establish and maintain in your life.
The thought of turning 30 never scared me until recently. My silver hairs seem to be sprouting in twos and threes instead of appearing as a rogue outlier that before only served as a wink from the “to come”. Minor injuries are now taking way longer to heal. And the thought of a retirement fund gets more bloated every day and pushes its way to the fore.
After years of denial–years of knowingly denying the inevitable–the clack-clack-clack of reaching the peak has reached its heaviest and loudest state as life lurches toward the discomfort of gravity doing its thing. I do what I can to extend the track ahead of me, to keep myself looking up at the blue, before I am forced to rely on what I have learned and done and accomplished and set up on the ascent to carry me through the immediate thrill and twists and turns of what’s to come.
What is to come? The exhilarating part. The part of my life that will be molded by the decisions I made on the way up.
Am I scared?
Suffice it to say that even if I had done everything the way I wanted to, even if everything had gone perfectly to plan, I would be scared. Terrified. White knuckle doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Because now is when I am starting to take inventory of all the decisions I have made, and recognizing all of the lucky breaks, misfortunes, coincidences that coalesced along the way. No matter how hard I wish for them, there are no second chances. No changing what I said, or did, or didn’t do. No changing the fact that I had one too many that night, one too few; stood up when I should have stayed down, or pretended, or wanted to be something different. And for better or for worse all this has built the vehicle and determined the bearing for every tomorrow. One good thing, however, is that I am still driving.
There are so many variables that go into formulating your history that it is a fool’s errand to try to sort them all out and ask “why?”. I must try very hard not to ask “why?” because it is in my nature to do so, but there are moments of lucidity that allow me to absolve myself of that burden and simply accept everything that has happened as my own journey to now. That makes it easier to focus on guiding my life toward the best possible, albeit, moving target of an outcome.
Something that goes along with not asking “why?” is not apologizing, especially to yourself, for liking or doing things. I am not about to admit to being a closet Dodger or Nickleback fan, but, yes, I like mainstream music. Or at least what was mainstream and was playing on the radio back when music mattered more to me. I still listen to Third Eye Blind, Linkin Park and Jack Johnson. So what? I am OK with listening to one song over and over and over, rather than striving to find to the newest/obscurest/least-known/weirdest music out there. I watch the shit out of Bones. Formulaic, comfortable and silly; I love it. And I have a man-crush on Booth (not David Boreanaz because in interviews he comes off as douchy — yes, I have watched interviews of the cast). I get some of my inspiration from Cracked.com. So what? It’s vulgar and mostly a time-suck, but it’s well written, well edited and entertaining. In fact, I read this article and it organized my perspective on shit.
Basically, I am who I am. I am just sorry it took me this long to realize and appreciate it; but I’m happy that I did so before my “I’m-39-and-about-to-turn-40” blog post.
So, as I approach my own peak — and I hope to be approaching it for a while yet — I am tearing down the façades that only showed what I wanted people to see of me. I want to expose, at least to myself, those decisions that make me cringe and perhaps share them with whoever is willing to cringe with me. I do this because John Barrymore’s quote, “A man is not old until regrets take the place of his dreams” really resonated with me. But after I thought about it, I realized that I could slow the process of aging by turning my regrets into windows into the real me. It is a twist to the logic of the quote because the things I regret were never dreams to begin with, but the way I interpret this quote has the idea of “regrets” being the antagonist in life, no matter their origin.
So now I try to regret less and live more. Even if living is just sitting on the couch watching “The Great British Bakeoff” with wifey. We’ll see what happens when the two of us becomes the three of us; what sort of things of myself I’ll want to rub off on my kid. Impatiently, I’ll probably pick them up and rub them on me–this is also good for bonding, I’ve read. But I am curious to see what I emit as dad and what the kids will reflect back. Hopefully the reflection will bear some resemblance of the man I want to become, the man I know I’ve been building my whole life.