For the entire month of June I’m planning on writing a series of blog-a-day posts based on a set series of open-ended questions to myself. This is one of those posts.
June 12th // Something You Are Learning
This last year I haven’t been learning anything. At least not formally. It used to be that I would register in all sorts of classes, but apart from running — which isn’t so much teaching me anything at the moment as it is training me — I’m not doing any extra-curricular.
So, for yet another answer to yet another question (on a quiet Sunday evening in June) I’m forced to reach into my philosophical bag of tricks and perform some self-evaluation magic. Something I am learning? I’m realizing that — nearly half way through this decade of my life — I’m learning what it means to be in my thirties. No, I haven’t sorted all the intricacies out to a fine, tanglible point. But, in thinking over the course of the day what I was going to write about, standing here on the southern side of thirty-four, a variety of chatter — at running, on the radio, on television — today has left me thinking about my age and how well I think I fit it.
Not that I think I fit my age very well. I am reminded of this constantly as — since I must have a young face, or something — people are always assuming I’m younger than I am. It let’s me get away with all sorts of things. It’s an unfair advantage. It’s a leg up in a world scattered with continually new acquaintances — each assuming I’m some doofus in my late twenties and couldn’t possibly… “oh, wait… yeah, he does know what he’s talking about.”
On the radio this afternoon there was a show where the host was interviewing some author about some book — the details of which are now forgotten and completely irrelevant to this post. At one point the author started going on and on about the metaphorical nature of music in relation to our sense of mortality, and this bled off into a weird sort of discussion between the host and that author about a sense of time, “the good old days,” and the idea of putting perspective on our lives in the here and the now. And I just kinda thought, this woman is such a poser. She has no idea. She’s faking it. She’s trying to sound like she’s got it all figured out and yet, here she is, rambling on about the metaphorical nature of verything with respect to everything else and… yeah… bullshit. That’s just someone who’s not comfortable in their own skin trying to wrap themselves up in this literary kinda blue plastic tarp to keep out reality.
I don’t know. I’m not saying I have it all figured out or anything.
I’m saying that at this age that I’m at I’m starting to feel comfortable with who I think I need to be right now.
I’ve been writing quite frequently about why I’m writing in this blog again, and as part of that sticking-acid-test-kinda-thing for the whole blog, I broke my silence on Friday to Karin about taking to writing here again. We were out walking the dog and I told her, easing into it like I was admitting some sort of horrific deed rather than just letting her know something passing, that I was blogging again… for over a month, now. But then she knows the whole back story to the original self-imposed sabatical. She knows the story about why I needed a break. And I knew that she was one person who — knowing all this — could have talked me out of it. (Though you can probably guess the result of that based on the fact you are reading these words.) She didn’t. And part of that is having a comfort in my own skin that I didn’t have a couple years ago. Part of that is knowing when to stand up for myself. Knowing when to brush off the debris of other people’s wackyness. Knowing when to tell certain people that they just need to fuck off and mind their own business.
So there it was. Is. Could be. Who can say?
Thirty is responsibility for things that are bigger than oneself. It goes to pets and kids and houses. It goes to jobs and money. It goes to broader ideals and stewarding the coming bridge between generations. It goes beyond the narscissism of youth into the assumption that we’ve got these thing figured out — at least mostly — and that life is a little bigger than this swirling vortex of self. It’s a philosophy of life that dictates our interactions with everything from the day-to-day relationships with hundreds of people to the grand interactions we make with the multiverse. It’s complex. And it is. It just is.
I mentions that I have it easy sometimes because people who have all this being a grown-up-thing figured out look at me and see someone younger-than-I-am. They assume I don’t have this figured out… that I’m not there yet. I haven’t been through it. I haven’t learned it. I haven’t sampled of life enough to know the shit from the sherbet. They assume… but only sometimes, of course. I generalize.
I’m not claiming to be perfect. The opposite in fact. Being thirty is when the pits and the pocks start to emerge in oneself. But being thirty is also when one embraces those pits and pocks as personality quirks that set one apart from others, make one unique, make one stand out (for better or worse, is up to you) in the crowded world. And it’s a hard thing to learn that.