In a couple of weeks, I will celebrate my 36th birthday. Never before have I been embarrassed about my age. But in this moment, just days before hitting my life’s next milestone, I can barely say it out loud. I’m not only in my mid-30’s but I am also closer to 40.
I don’t know what 36 is supposed to feel like. I don’t know what 36 is supposed to look like. I cannot quite grasp how 36 is supposed to act or sound or think. But I know with every fiber of my being that in spite of my myriad of experiences and the years I have left behind, I do not feel 36 years old.
Childhood seemed to last an eternity. I couldn’t wait to grow up. My teen years seemed to be merely an obstacle to my ultimate goal: adulthood. Then, it hit. Like a high-speed locomotive racing up hill… Adulthood… Some time after I got my first quarter of a century under my belt, the speeding train peaked and it was down hill from there. The years seem to fly past. Some days, I wake up and wonder where all that time between 25 and 35 went.
I’m not haunted by regret but I am saddened by my reckless disregard for time and my failure to savor the moment.
There’s an old American Indian saying that says a traveling warrior should spend 5% of his time looking back to where he came from (so he never forgets how to get home), 5 % of his time looking ahead to his future (so he will reach his destination) and 90% of his time focusing on the present moment (so he doesn’t miss a step and fall of a cliff in the process).
As I approach this 36th birthday, I vow to take my time, to drink in each experience, swish it around in my mouth and taste it fully. I will no longer gulp down the days. As I assess my surroundings, I will commit them to memory. The people, the places, the things… I will burn them in my mind. Whether I am 36 or 106, I will not live the life I am supposed to nor feel my age nor act my age nor sound nor think nor be embarrassed about my age. I will live life to the fullest, seizing opportunity and writing my story along the way.
And when my final year has come and gone, I will have a great story and a very happy ending.