When you reach thirty years old you realize you’re pretty young.
You spend a lot of time between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five trying to figure out time. Time, up to age eighteen, is someone else’s schedule. You may be lucky enough to have driven yourself around for a few years once you reach eighteen, but you were driving around your small little hometown world in your parent’s car and you were probably negotiating hours and minutes with authority figures every time you turned around.
Be at practice on time. Curfews. Dinner’s at seven.
Then you go to college and you don’t even go to class if you can justify it to the mirror, and you lose all track of schedules and normalcy. Your world erupts into a fiery cloud of endless possibilities, limitless laziness, and meals at midnight. You learn things, but you don’t know why. You can’t wait to be twenty-one and then you regret graduating the day you graduate.
Out in the real-world, you’re twenty-three and time is turning on itself and your threshold for uncertainty finds its high point. You wonder about tomorrow, and five…ten years…you’re as likely to be living on another planet as you are to be gainfully employed, for all you know.
The process of turning thirty (a process is what it is) started when you turned eighteen.
It continued through twenty-one and it continued through your first real decisions laced with unforeseen consequences. You were learning everything but what you thought you were learning. Twenty-five comes and goes like a gust of wind, and the next five years seem more serious but you’re just not sure why.
I think it takes us more than twenty-five years to really get comfortable with the idea that there’s not much to figure out on this big crazy rock we call Earth. No one seems to be right, and no one seems to be wrong. We all find ourselves in a world shaped by our decisions, our actions, and a pinch of luck, good or bad.
We take measure as we approach thirty and our world’s a bit different than even the worlds of the people closest to us.
We’re all becoming who we already were. We have a sense of purpose that, at the very least, draws fuel from a rather common lesson-learned; we are our choices. It’s that simple.
Our twenties are a time for taking a look at the way life’s supposed to look and painting our own picture. I think the struggle we all feel as we wonder about our careers and our love lives and our decisions and our quest for the perfect life is each and every one of us finding a way down the mountain. Jump in a river, or climb down the rocks.
The water’s cold, the rocks are hard.
If you choose the water, you’ll be in the water. Choose the rocks, you’re on the rocks.
Thirty is just the rocks or the river, with no regrets.
Photo by David Paul Ohmer.