Not Just A Number

July 11, 2011

I was a little younger than 30 in this picture.

On the 17th of July, I will be 30. I was born July 17th, 1981…seems like a long time ago. Now, they say age is just a number, and that you’re only as old as you feel. Well, that’s a lie. You can feel like you’re 5 when you’re 90, and most people call that dementia. Yeah, age is a number, but it’s not just a number, like numbers aren’t important. They’re of vital importance, actually. For instance, you can’t drive a car in this country till you’re 16, you can’t buy beer if you’re under 21, you can’t be president if you’re under 35, and you’re not eligible for the early bird special at I.H.O.P. if you’re under 55 and can’t prove otherwise. You can have a mentality different from what your driver’s license makes you out to be, but to pretend that numbers don’t matter is foolish. They’re one of the most important things in the world.

What am I getting at, with all of this? Simply that I’m not taking this birthday lightly. In the grand scheme of things, 30 is little different than 29. No special privileges are bestowed upon you, and you’re probably not going to feel much different physically. But American society, I think, does view you a bit differently. At the age of 30, you’re meant to be seen as taking a further step into the adult world. As humans are living longer, mostly due to achievements in medical science, it’s not unusual for people to be living into their 80’s, their 90’s, and beyond. Now, we can debate as to whether this is a good thing or it isn’t, but one fact that is indisputable is that in this day and age, your 20’s have begun to be viewed in much the same way that teenage years were to older generations. In other words, it’s much more permissible to goof off while you’re in your 20’s and not gain the same momentum and accomplish the same things in life before the age of 30 as might have reasonably been required of you in the past. Since we live longer, we can take a little longer becoming self reliant. Obviously, there are going to be some variations with this. No two people are the same, nor are two families, and different things are expected of everyone depending on their background and a variety of other factors. When it comes to me, personally, I don’t mean to imply by all of this that there are going to be concrete demands placed upon me at 30 that weren’t there when I was 29. At least…not by anyone but myself. And therein lies the quandary. I don’t want to place new, undue pressures on myself, now that I’m turning 30. I put enough pressure on myself as it is…I make myself sick with it, sometimes. I just hope that, looking at this birthday, regarded as a big one by most people, a noteworthy one, that I’ll be able to take a significant amount of joy in it, rather than viewing it only as an indicator that I should “buckle down” more, or any other euphemism you’d choose that basically means I need to get my shit together. We all have different definitions of what, exactly, that means. But for me, suffice to say that there are a lot of goals in my life, on various fronts, that I haven’t met yet, and that I’m still, in fact, far away from accomplishing.

What it will eventually come down to, I think, is this, a creed by which I’ve lived my life for some time. I’ll just have to do the best I can each day, and take it one day at a time. Even as I look toward the future, and reminisce about the past, as one is apt to do on one’s birthday, I need to try and accept this for what it is, and only what it is, not something to worry about too much, but yet, not something to take lightly. We’ll see how successful I am when it comes to that. One thing’s for sure, I’m going to be viewing this event as more than just a steak dinner. No matter what they tell you, age isn’t and never will be just a number. And a birthday is a commemoration of, well, your birth, one of the two single most important events in your life…and I think we all know what the other one is, though it’s usually considered taboo to talk about it. So wish me well for my birthday; I appreciate it, I truly do. Just know that while it will only take a minute to say “Happy Birthday” to me, I’ll be giving the day, and everything that goes along with it, all the consideration that it’s due, and probably more. Happy 30th birthday, Steven. It’s a day that at one time, quite honestly, I thought I might never see. And, as with every birthday, I will never see its like again.

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