Death to the Dark Age: I Turned 32 Today
I turned 32 today. Let me rephrase: I TURNED 32 TODAY. Which is to say, it was kind of a big deal, in at least in that way the self realizes that it’s actually NOT a big deal at all, which is to say, I’m not innately unique for getting old, and, in particular, there is nothing special about 32 — which is exactly why turning 32 was such a big deal.
It’s not about the age, per say. The crux lies in the age coinciding with my history: it’s about having just completed my first year in NYC; it’s about where I was the year before that when I existed hopelessly in Las Vegas; it’s that when I left ATL, the last place I called home, I was 29 and seemingly on the brink of greatness or madness, depending on who you asked. It’s the reality that, my life as I define it at present did not begin today, did not begin yesterday.
Where I am now at 32 is the direct product of my yesteryears, in particular who I was at 27, an age I would later recognize as a pivotal year in my life. Twenty-seven was the year I decided to truly prioritize myself and my goals and deflect from repeating past mistakes and instead revise and rebuild after a post quarter-life “crisis” awakened me to the reality that I’d been fearfully stalling and dicking around with the wrong people and things. Prioritization proved fruitful, but exhausting. There was a lot constantly going on and seemingly soon after it all began, I began to crumble under the pressure. And, quite honestly, by the time I left Atlanta I was considerably ill and fragile, not physically but emotionally and mentally.
Today was the day I dreamt of five years ago when I calculated, came to terms with, and set in motion a five-year plan to reshape and/or rebuild elements of my life that were negatively impacting my happiness and needed to be modified for the purpose of leading a happier, more stress-free life (i.e., paying off credit card, IRS, and medical bill debt; switching careers from writing to web analytics and digital marketing, et al). Today is why I made the choices and sacrifices that I made five years ago from age 27 until today, which is not to say that I didn’t fuck up along the way or that today is fantastic and perfect, but instead serves as blinders to better allow one to focus on the positive and that which matters instead of dwelling on that which cannot be changed or undone. Today wasn’t about turning 32. Today was about processing the reality that the goals I calculated and set in motion at age 27 have either been completed or are have hit a stride of sorts, and, that, as a result of which, as I go into year 32, there are action items I no longer have to worry over and can confidently check off the list, finally bringing me out of the hole to ground level, where I may now rebuild on the new foundation I have carved out and refilled.
And therein lies the fleshy center: The mind-blowing moment when you realize that your dark age, like your youth, is no longer the present but the past and what was once the future too, as what has developed was not accidental but premeditated — calculated, and carried out despite all odds and obstacles, and that, as such, the dark age that had long given you anxiety attacks brought on by procrastination and dread is over and you lived through it and that everything, generally speaking, worked out pretty well in the end and how lucky are you to be able to live that and say that and recognize that too.
I speak of and offer this fleshy center as a reminder to all those of you who are currently in the process of altering certain paths, or who are and have been living through their own version of a dark age, wherein you’ve done the calculations and the light at the end of the tunnel feels so far away that it feels like you’ll never see the break of dawn ever again. This is just to remind you that “this too shall pass” and it’s so corny but true and don’t despair sometimes change is hard but you will cross the finish line — YOU WILL GET THERE. I promise you. And by that same token, remember: time goes fast. I never understood it when my older brother or parents used to say that to me, but I get it now. It’s fascinating, how that time warp can work for and against you. Gotta apply that Magic Eye. Don’t wait for tomorrow! Just take all that bad shit that you keep avoiding and confront it head on even if that means stomaching that uncomfortable change.
If I could experience each year and return to that age or stage which was my favorite, such an opportunity could potentially be blissful, but since sci-fi rules don’t apply to real life, that is not an option. What I have — what we have — is the here and the now and being observant and grateful for what we have including the capacity to change, and all that push and pull, the dance, is what makes life beautiful. Whether the result of life at large or the consequences of personal life choices we made, don’t let the negatives take the lead. We are all stronger than we think we are, we are all powerful. Don’t ever forget that. It’ll all be over with before you know it.
Today, I breathe a sigh of relief. Today, I am not older but lighter, happier. There will be no big party, no big cultural milestone associated, instead I celebrate the change within. It’s easy to forget when life’s at its darkest. When it’s good, you have to absorb that beauty and bask in what you worked for. Today I turned 32 and I am basking.