Friday, January 27, 2012

Birthday rumination

Today I commence my 45th year out of the womb. It's my 44th birthday, but that means yesterday I completed 44 rides around the sun.

I'm not sure why I'm so inclined to think in terms of what I'm starting rather than what I'm finishing, but I like to consider it vaguely admirable. That's not suggesting I'm necessarily optimistic about this 45th year, but I do have to believe it's got as good a chance as any that it will improve over how much of the 44th has gone.

Part of me simply is fascinated with the way people tend not to think in those terms. Obviously our culture is youth-oriented and aging is almost shameful, despite the obvious fact we're all always doing it, with no alternative option. However, I get the impression many think only in terms of aging in annual bursts, where they've only gotten older when their birthday hits. More than that, there's a delusion that the age you say you are—for example, for me it's been 43 for the past year—is the year you're in; that is, me thinking this past year has been my 43rd. Simple math reveals that's not the case, but I suspect many don't like to think they're older than they have to claim to be, and thus twist the math to make themselves a year younger than they are.

Hey, if that makes one feel better, go for it. I'm not suggesting I do not delude myself to try to make myself feel better; it's merely not that way. Pretending I haven't spent as much time on this planet as I have. My youth had its fair share of good moments but it had plenty of crappy ones, too. I'm not complaining; it was life, and that's how it goes. Being okay with how old one is does strike me as a key to being generally happy, and even though there's much that isn't panning out as I suppose I sort of hoped it would, I do consider myself to be a generally happy person.

I know it doesn't always seem that way, but that's our human proclivity—or perhaps necessity—to dwell on what's not going well; the problems are what we must try to address, so they get the immediate focus. Only when there's time for contemplation do the good things get to shine.

Obvious, I know, but true nonetheless.

Perhaps what makes it so easy to embrace the start of a 45th year is that I don't really feel like how I suppose I thought a 44-year-old would be, from the perspective of myself twenty years ago and what I figured the onset of middle age would be—not that I specifically recall anything; it's more this sense that what I'm experiencing now is not what I theoretically thought it would be. I don't feel old (perhaps because I don't have kids yet, and perhaps because I still don't own a house, or due to myriad other life benchmarks that seemed associated with this time in one's life that do not apply to me), and so that makes it easy to accept being old.

Of course, when I reveal that my wife and I are taking the day off and going to Disneyland and revel in youthful-type celebration, that probably undermines everything I just said about accepting my age, doesn't it?

But I like to think undermining myself (and not caring that I do so) is one of the best aspects of being this old.


  1. Happy birthday, however old you think you are! ;-) If it makes you feel better, you're only 23.4 Martian years old.

  2. Thanks, Marvin, but Mars won't let me back there (not allowed to explain further) so it won't do me much good.


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