Sunday, May 06, 2007

Upon Turning 30

Yesterday it happened. Sometime after watching "The Queen" (a very good movie which requires some stamina to appreciate late at night), the clock struck twelve. After that point, I was no longer in my 20's.

To be clear, I have never been one to get caught up in the pomp and circumstance of certain artificial milestones. One thing that I have learned through the last few years is that one reaches certain internal milestones without rhyme or reason; one person's moment to become an adult is another person's moment to grab strongly for long-lost youth. Still, these dates that mark the passage of time are as good as any in a post-modern world to re-assess one's stock and make some sense of the moments.

For me, a life worth living has led ultimately to a townhouse life outside of DC with a fiancee'; it all works except for the picket fence and the struggling koi in the small backyard pond. Somehow, I ended up here after stints in Ohio, California, and Switzerland; somehow, the path carries its own logic. And after wild swings that could inevitably have led to Italy or London or even back to the old hometown, I have ended up here outside of DC and outside of the plans I might have concocted when I was 25.

I guess we are always undergoing a healthy dose of change, and that change seems to happen at a greater rate than our parents and ancestors had previously experienced. We are at the mercy of an age that sometimes exists in a realm unseen (online) and moments unlived (automation). We do many things because they are possible but maybe not advisable, and we try to fit in so much before we pass from this world that a day's passing is little occasion for reflection and personal connection. Our children's interaction will become fully digital, I fear, and the act of writing will become as archaic as the manual typewriter has already become to peers not far behind me in age. Even more, the increasing living expectancy is extending development ages for people, such that the 20's are becoming the teens of yesteryear and the child-rearing days push further and further into the 30's - not to mention that mid-life crisis is becoming more a thing of the 60's than the 40's and the teens are becoming a good time prepare extensively for a life of automated tests and assessments for a variety of skills.

So there you go - our lives seem to start today just about the time that our ancestors' lives ended. Turning 30 today signifies that you must, inevitably now, take up the mantle of adulthood and start to become more mature. No doubt that the mantle in future generations will likely be picked up at 40, but that is for another day. For now, my mantle has already been picked up and will be carried forward with some vigor. Upon turning 30, I am ready to try my hand at housekeeping and married life and career life to find out all that my parents long ago learned. And who knows - kids soon to follow, another promotion, a new car? A fight with the neighbors over the hedge? A church membership? Another charitable donation? Community service? Working out at the YMCA? On my 30th birthday, I strangely feel contented with this progression, onward and upward to the building of a fuller life.
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