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02 Aug, 2014 – 2 comments

hello, thirties

I am a 31 year old man, now nearly 32 years of age. I’m as shocked as you might be.

My 20′s were spent living what could best be described as bedouin isolation. I had the luxury to live in Austin, Chicago, Manhattan (then Brooklyn), Boulder, Florida, and finally Los Angeles. Well, my body made the trips. My mind, mostly, remain fixated on itself.

I am, as I said, in my early thirties, and my perception of life has changed much more dramatically since my twenties than I could have expected. I live in Los Angeles, married now to an extraordinary woman, who came with a dog that’s now part best friend, part child to me. Luckily, my days end and begin with the both of them. I’ve been in this apartment longer than anywhere I’ve lived since my childhood home. I even own pieces of furniture that came pre-assembled. I’m trying to jump start my own office of an established company (and in the process becoming more like my father than I could have imagined). I worry about sales and about spending time with my wife that isn’t colored by my worrying over sales.

I’ve been jotting down random thoughts lately on what this new decade of my life has asked of me that the last decade didn’t.

For one, maintenance. My body is a poor excuse for what it once was. If I allow myself to actually look below the neck in a reflection, I shudder at thoughts of the gym, time seemingly wasted running on a treadmill or in some other form of repetition. My relationships require maintenance, too. My closest and most sacred relationship, to the woman I married, is the one I stress most over. She is so incredibly important to me, and her own character deserves that I be my whole self in front of her. Possessions, too. I suddenly have things which require I keep them humming, or cleaned, or otherwise lubricated. I have to flip mattresses, vacuum under couches, and actually clean the microwave now. It’s intolerable.

Related to maintenance, I now find myself without a shred of discipline. In my twenties, I could make a snap decision and suddenly I was going to become a passionate expert in some new esoteric discipline, or decide to cut out some evil in my diet and would without trouble be one of those smug dieters. I could draw any line in the sand and easily remain on the other side of it. Now, I mostly want to eat the food that tastes good, drink the drinks that feel good, and do whatever sounds good. I just hope that in my forties, the firemen that cut me out of my home will do so with respect and discretion.

Presence. As I said, I lived my 20′s, mentally, in the comfort and, at times confinement, of my own head. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression most of my life. I’m not ashamed or embarrassed of that anymore. I see it as a chronic condition that occasionally flares up and demands more of my attention. I also see it as a part of who I am, it has shaped me in both positive and negative ways. It has taught me most of all to be kind to others, to understand that anyone I pass on the street is at war with their own emotions, that they could be injuring themselves with their own thoughts. With that in mind, I’ve recently begun a practice of mindfulness, as you do in LA, where I practice being present so that however long I have to be here with the rest of you, I can spend that time living the life in front of me, rather than my perceptions about what’s passed or to come.

As my practice has developed, I find myself at times whispering or thinking a short, non-theistic, prayer. It goes something like this. May I be present in this moment. May I be safe, protected from both inner and outer harm. May I be at ease in my mind and in my body. May I live in peace with the world around me, free from judgement and kind to whatever or whomever I encounter. Finally, with all of this in my mind and in my heart, may I be happy in this moment.

Don’t worry, dear reader, I am not about to start dressing myself in all white, hemp woven garbs, or cross the country with bare feet. I’m as weary of hippies as the next Texan. I simply want to be able to write a similar post to this when I turn 40 (assuming I’m still a living fourth dimensional traveler at that time) and it not be a sad retelling of a popular Talking Heads’ song.

Click that link, it’s a great outro. Otherwise, this post kind of sputters to an end. Life, though, goes on.



2 Comments

  1. Barbara Dignan
    Barbara Dignan August 2, 2014 at 11:15 pm .

    You are certainly not alone. The bliss of our twenties is that we tend to fear very little, think we can conquer most anything that comes our way, and are certain our bodies will be thin, gorgeous, & healthy forever. The thirties are so wrapped in work and, for some of us, children; they are gone in a blink. In my case, the world was my oyster until mid-way through my forties. A divorce, the sale of a big, beautiful house and the move to a small one, (I’ve had 29 moves in my life, if you can believe that), two boys to raise who wondered why their dad wanted out, 3 new jobs, and a body that cried out for exercise. Aaron and Ben were my rock of Gilbraltar; I would have crawled into a dark cave and never emerged if not for them. We had our share of problems, worries, heartbreaks over the years, but MANY joys as well. The ONE thing that I know I did right: I learned how to live in the moment. I cherished the small, daily things. I took care of my boys, my friends, and my students. Every night before falling asleep, I went back over the day’s events. A mental calendar, if you will. I still do this, even though both boys are in NY and I’m retired. So, you are right on the money, Bud. You know what counts. If you always keep that in mind, you will get to my “ripe” old age of 66 and be very happy with your past. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and forgive me if I’ve stepped over a line here by writing you.

  2. Grace
    Grace August 5, 2014 at 1:53 pm .

    This is so so great and much appreciated right now! I’m currently in my mid-twenties, but have been experiencing a reality check right now because I don’t want to coast through life. Your prayer was a wonderful reminder of where I’d like to be headed.

    As usual, it’s always a pleasure to read your posts!

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