I’ve never paid much mind to my birthday. I enjoy getting together with friends and loved ones, eating a good meal, devouring a hearty slice of chocolate cake (preferable Devil’s food), and I’m just as excited to receive a birthday gift as I was back when all I cared about were Hot Wheels and model airplane kits. However, I’ve never paid much mind to the notion of certain birthdays as important landmarks or signifiers in my life.
If I really want to be cynical and an all-around party-pooper, I would say it’s due in part to the fact that we really don’t have any truly important rites of passage associated with certain ages anymore. We claim that we do, but their significance is really more illusory than anything else.
So what if you can start driving when you turn 16? That doesn’t guarantee an automatic change in your status. You’re not automatically seen as more adult than you were on the last day of your 15th year. Indeed, in the eyes of some, namely insurance companies, you actually become an even bigger liability. Some rite of passage, that one. I think I’ll wait another seven years or so before I get my license, thank you very much.
The last time I really got excited about a birthday as a momentous celebration of passing from one distinct stage of life to the next was when I turned 13. I was finally a teenager. I couldn’t wait to raise all manner of hell, and take on all of those other privileges that seemed so exciting and fantastic to my 12-year-old mind. But soon after I realized that being 13 was really no different than being 12. Nothing had really changed. I was still as skinny and gawky as ever. I still hung around in the same social groups. I still enjoyed reading encyclopedias. And I was still picked on at school by the cool kids.
As such, I’ve always been fascinated by the importance that we place on turning certain ages, and I’ve never paid much mind to the stink that people raise about getting older.
I know that many consider turning 30 the kiss of death, as if the Grim Reaper himself is waiting for them when blow out the candles. But when friends, family, and co-workers asked me last year how I felt about the big 3 – 0, I could really only reply with a shrug. I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t afraid, I didn’t feel like I had put one foot in the grave, I didn’t feel as if my young life was slowly slipping away — I experienced none of that.
I was simply one year older. But oh what a difference a year makes.
Earlier this week, I turned 31. One of my co-workers commented that 31 is one of those “meh” ages, and they’re absolutely right. Nothing special happens when you turn 31, there’s no great significance to being that particular age. And yet I can honestly say that, for the first time since I turned 13, I am truly excited about the year to come.
I realize that sounds a bit pathetic. That’s not to say that great things don’t happen to me every year (case in point, getting married in 2005). Still, this birthday feels truly significant in a way that the others haven’t.
Without getting too mushy about it, a number of fantastic opportunities have landed in my lap, in both the personal and professional sense (and sometimes both). Work is tremendously exciting, as I’m involved in about six projects or so that are all exceedingly cool. And even if some of them don’t come to fruition as foreseen, they’ll still be valuable learning experiences.
2007 is also shaping up to be a big year for this website. Music review #1000 should be appearing on Opus within the next month or so, a landmark if ever there was one. And there will definitely be some special celebration for that event (so stay tuned). And of course, I’m still pleased as punch with the migration to ExpressionEngine, which is making some very cool things possible.
And personally, my 31st year holds much promise. I feel like I’m constantly becoming more at ease with this whole husband gig, slowly but surely putting aside the bachelor mindset that I had for over a decade (though there are some occasional flare-ups). It’s not an easy process sometimes, but it’s a role that is fitting better more and more.
Simply put, I feel blessed in a way that can’t ever quite recall experiencing. Sure, there are some regrets and a few tinges of nostalgia, of wishing that some things could go back to the way they once were. But at the same time, I’m looking ahead more than ever, because the few glimpses that I have are exciting.
At the same time, I’m realizing that I can’t hold onto things too tightly, especially given this present day and age with all of its division, strife, and uncertainty. I realize that some of these may be taken away from me. As disappointing as that will most certainly be, I also trust and know that all things work together for good in part because I see how good things are right now.
31 is a good age to be, and 2007 is shaping up to be a very good year.