When I Was A Lad

Thoughts on turning 34

I believe I’ve passed the age
Of consciousness and righteous rage
I found that just surviving was a noble fight.
I once believed in causes too,
I had my pointless point of view,
And life went on no matter who was wrong or right.
Billy Joel, “Angry Young Man


This year’s birthday post will probably be an improvement over last year’s, which in retrospect was kind of depressing. To be sure, it reflected where I was at the time and if anything conveyed a sense of forced optimism. While today I don’t feel a sense of enthusiams or exhilaration, I can honestly say I’m much calmer – perhaps even using the term “stable.”

The funny thing is that nothing specific happened this past year to account for any significant change in mood. Of the two major life issues of family and career there has been little progress if not outright setbacks; my fultile experiences in blind dating are now well documented and I faced the disappointment of not getting into PhD programs.

So what happened?

My best guess is that while in the past I’ve tended to obsess about the “big questions,” this year I’ve been working on handling the smaller, immediate, and more controllable issues which come up every day. Instead of viewing each decision as an immensely important life defining choice, I realize while all actions have repurcussions few result in the dire consequneces I would sometimes imagine. It’s not that things aren’t important anymore, it’s just that I’m seeing things from a new perspective.

In short, I think I’ve mellowed in my old age.

I’m only partially joking here. Despite what the AARP thinks, I know that 34 isn’t really “old” (though I suppose it’s relative). But I do think that at 34[1. “לד” in Hebrew, hence the gematria inspired title of this post with the bonus Gillbert and Sullivan reference, FTW.] I’m starting to approach life differently. It’s not that I don’t have priorities, goals, or dreams,[2. I’m still clinging to my delusions of academia] but I am reevaluating exactly how to accomplish them and manage the inevitable disappointments, keeping in mind that life is much bigger than anything I can imagine.

I have no idea how long this new attiude will last or if it will help result in any of the meaningful changes to which I still aspire, but I can guess that I’m going to find the process much more enjoyable.

And of course, I have my friends and Loyal Readers along for the ride.

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