This year: 1/30th of my life

Today I turn 30 and from what people tell me I am supposed to feel a certain way about it. I get the sense people think 30 is when the party is over. The freedom of youth has sung its last swan song. From what I can tell people think this because they have their careers and families started. Their path is set. They have made their beds and now it’s off to sleep in them. Good on you. I commend all you who have planned your life out. I, to date, have not. I have no 401k, no insurance, no family of my own, no retirement plan, no career, and no degree. I don’t even own a car. What I do have is wealth of experience. I have been a server, a bartender, a farm hand, a grocer, a radio personality, a cab driver, a minister, and a vagabond. I have been elected into leadership roles and asked to leave organizations I help form. I have been a lowly door knocker and the Vice President of a company. I have lost people; causes ranging from heroine to religion. I have met people from all walks of life and became friends with the most unexpected characters. I have skied Alaska, jumped out of an airplane, and ridden a bicycle 1,500 miles cross country in a month. I have loved and been loved.

So what do I have to show for this? A rich and full life, and if you’ll permit me, I’d like to extend to you what I have (l)earned. Feel free to hum the beat of that ’98 hit “Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen).”*

Study history. It truly is amazing how cyclical we are and that can bring peace in a chaotic world. Wait tables for at least a year. It will make you a kinder person. Floss. Daily. Revel in the things people mock you for. It takes their power away. Cultivate good spatial awareness. Being aware of your space is courteous to others and in the extreme, may save your life. Don’t watch shows about things you can easily do. Pawn shops, bakeries, restaurants, and kitchens are hiring. Watch cartoons. Read the classics. Look up words when you don’t know the definition. Don’t listen only to pop radio. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid of new technology. Learn about it. Be aware of new legislation. Know who your senators and representatives are. Vote with your dollar. Don’t shop at Walmart. Don’t be afraid to take control. Don’t complain. Problem solve. If it’s on the news, it is the exception not the norm. Don’t pretend to be an expert about subjects in which you are not. Talk about religion and politics but do your best to be impersonal and without bias. Kill and process an animal with your own hands, cook and eat it. You will understand food intimately. Be prepared to defend logically the least of your opinions. Be prepared to change your mind on even your closest and deepest held positions when presented with new information. Be incredulous. Don’t claim to know the unknowable. Cultivate patience. Learn and practice to be a good conversationalist. Realize the universe does not care about you. Marvel in this: it is amazing how many random things came together over 14 billion years so you could be sitting here reading this. People of faith are good despite their religion, not the other way around. Morality and religion are not synonymous. Choose to do what is right because you know what is right in your gut. Occasionally, break the law. Practice civil disobedience. Carry a flask when going to shows; it leaves money to buy merchandise. Never complain about a cover charge for live music. Tip more than you should. It will make that person’s day and cost you a couple extra bucks. Pick trash up. Hold people accountable. Forgive. Be what you want out of others, daily. Work hard for reward. Give without expectation of reciprocation. Make educated guesses. Take reasonable risks. Test your limits by breaking them from time to time. Get bad habits if only to exercise will power in breaking them. Love. Truly sacrifice you on the altar of others whenever you can muster. Love more.

30 a is weird place to be. I feel I have just enough experience to start in on life. Fast food now comes with an intestinal price. The dating world has the loud ticking of a biological clock. I am caught among “youth is wasted on the young” and “wisdom and affluence is wasted on the old.” My friends are either getting face down drunk on a Wednesday or having babies. To me 30 is liberating. I have enough experience to know what I want and enough time to pursue it. I will forever be as young as I feel (which will likely be younger than I am) and then I will be dead, but that is a long way off. I plan to soak up this marvelous world for years and years to come. To all you who have been part of my journey, my most heart felt thanks. It has been grand thus far.

Drive fast. Take chances. Thanks for reading.


*intentionally dating myself.


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