As of today, I’ve existed outside of my mother’s womb for 35 years.
Something about that number feels “old”. It is halfway to 70, and I’m pretty sure people die at 70. I don’t feel old, but that number feels old. When you are 35 you are supposed to have your life figured out, you are supposed to be stable and raising kids and have a mortgage. The adventures are supposed to be over, or, at the very least, relegated to structured vacations and retirement funds. My life is almost done and it seems to have gone in the blink of an eye.
Or, maybe not.
While on paper it looks like half my years are behind me, not all years are created equal. Let’s visualize my life.
This is my life so far:
Look at those sexy squares. Look at my terribly lazy cut/paste Excel and Paint skills. So, what does it look like when I add my remaining years? (Note: I’m assuming I live until 85, which I actually think this is a conservative assumption given my family history, lifestyle, and advancements in medical technology, I may live to be 1,000 or infinity)
Huh? Not bad. My past (green) is noticeably smaller than my future (orange). But, like I said before, not all years are equal and I don’t think I should equally weigh being 1 year old with no memory of shitting my pants with being 22 years old in the military with no memory of shitting my pants. My life has really been broken down into three sections:
- Childhood, where I had almost no control over my own life
- Military and College, where I had limited control over my own life
- Adulthood, where I have control over my life
So really, my life looks more like this:
My childhood (grey) is the largest part of my past, even as I hit 35. There were important milestones during that time but it is not really a good indicator of what my future will be like. Most of that time was tightly regimented and lacked any type of autonomy.
My military and college days (green) were similar. There were milestones during this time, I became sexually active, I changed my spiritual and political beliefs, served in a couple of combat zones, etc, but my life was still controlled significantly by outside sources. I didn’t really have the freedom that I have today. Looking back, I realize I could have left this part of my life of my own volition much more quickly, but I didn’t do that.
I think it is really my adult years (blue) that I should focus on and count when comparing my past to my future, and when I compare those two time period the future seems much larger:
LOOK AT ALL THOSE FUCKING YEARS LEFT! HOLY SHIT!
I’ve lived only 8 years in my adult life and have 50 left! That means I’ve only lived about 14% of my adult life and I don’t really have a reason to believe the adventures will stop much. Since I started this section of my life I’ve:
- Lived and worked in Washington DC
- Rode my bike solo across the country
- Explored and accepted my sexuality
- Gone to Burning Man four times
- Lived and worked in Los Angeles
- Spent 2.5 years biking through 24 states (which included the Redwoods, the Great Lakes, deserts, forests, mountains, rivers, cities, towns, etc)
- Adopted a dog
- Tried a handful of drugs, including MDMA, 2C-B, 25I, and LSD
- Got married
- Got a genital piercing
- Got a vasectomy
- Wintered in Missoula, MT, and Dallas, TX
- Read dozens (if not hundreds) of books
- Met hundreds (if not thousands) of people
- Moved to Wilmington
- Started homebrewing
- Became vegan
- Started taking my health and fitness more seriously
- Probably lots of other stuff
That’s not a bad run for eight years. And I expect the next 50 to be about the same. Sure, I won’t be getting another vasectomy, but my travels will continue and I’ll explore myself and the world as thoroughly as possible. I’ll likely live dozens of new places, including outside of the US, adopt more animals, bike through more states, take up new hobbies, try more drugs, and intimately connect with more people.
It is so easy to look at the number 35 and think “shit, I’ve wasted so much of my life”, but that is a terrible perspective. My life has been full of wonder and excitement and I’ve accomplished so much. And I have so much time ahead to accomplish more. It is a beautiful life and I am so happy to be where I am, with who I am, and the age I am.