somehow without realising it i woke up this morning to a very profound realisation: i had turned 30 years old. in brief contemplation i felt quite empowered: a new era, a coming of age. it doesn’t feel like turning 20, which more or less was an extended hangover from turning 19. no, this feels quite significant, quite transformative. quite womanly … quite wise.
very aware of my aura yearning for new experiences and exploring new emotions, tiring of the turbulence yet superseded by tales nothing short of epic, conversations about the impending ‘dirty thirty’ raised some curious inquisition by those near: “do you have any apprehensions about getting old?” my therapist asked. “do you realise your priorities will need to change?” a lady nagged. “do you regret any decisions that you’ve made?” a darling innocently questioned. “do you think you’ll miss your twenties?” a magazine header taunted. and the inevitable–“do you think your life is where you want it to be?” demanded the masses.
now that the year 1982 has rolled into 2012 this overly anticipated shift from 29 to 30 seems to really scare the shit out of some; for others it is the changing of a season–a shift from growing up to perpetually growing.
i suppose for myself i see this birthday as another etched milestone, another step in seeking to live gracefully, playfully intact. i’ve always embraced april 2nd, the start of my own personal new year; the repotting of the soul, a renewed spirit aglow. an anniversary of the self, to celebrate. and like champagne, a woman supposedly gets finer with age. and like a good bottle of bubbles, i will never let the good times fade.
but if i am to be honest with myself, and honest with whomever is reading this, i have considered my twenties to reflect the definitive decade that was the roaring 1920s. a time in history that i find truly intriguing, there is much that my life has seemed to have emulated: recklessness, greatness, stints of success and a disruptive fall from grace. like the “jazz age” that was, my twenties swung in stride but skipped to many beats.
with little effort i dare to compare …
the 1920s can be broken down into three areas: dancing flappers, the golden years (or années folles as the french were known to say) and the crash of ’29. as much as i hate to reference wikipedia, the online information heavyweight describes these early years of the 20th century as an “emphasis on social, artistic and cultural dynamism … where the flapper redefined modern womanhood … and the wall street crash of 1929 ended the era.” to measure my mere twenty-something fables against such historic events would perhaps be overwhemingly unrealistic, but life is relative isn’t it?
i attempt to recount …
like the 1920s that emerged from the awkward remnants of the first world war, i sheepishly stumbled upon my 20th birthday, clinging to a world full of vikings where life was bliss. but post-teenage years would not prepare me for the battles ahead and it was in my early 20s where i learned to help peers by them helping me. i found my love for community and a relentless passion for humanity that would become my enduring adolescent philosophy. it was also during these younger days of the decade where i was clumsy with my heart, irresponsible with others and continuously confused loved for lust. around an ignorant age of 24-25 i succumbed to convention, convincing my self that curiosity was no virtue but indeed a vice, undoing any sensibility that the intellectual francis bacon had taught me. then came my années folles, my mid-twenties, patterns of lost behaviour and slivers of profound joy. the tempo of the music playing at that time kept the party going but as a blogger (whose name i can’t remember) cleverly crafted, “enduring the 20s is like being a character in an unwritten story of your life.” a firm believer that an individual authors his/her own journey and after succumbing to grey mendacity, a palette of colour brought be back to life. and so it was during the year of 28 where my creative and cultural self merged over the seas where i took solace in exile; a discovery of esteemed courage. yet like the end of any era, a decade’s near demise, my 29th, was too a catastrophic crash. but as some bloke once boasted in an article i can’t recall where from, “people this age can make mistakes and still recover.” its the triumph from failure that makes us kids strong anyways i reckon.
hilary clinton in her book ‘it takes a village’ describes the 20s for most women as their “formative years”. after ten years of trialing and tribulating, mrs clinton, i’d say i feel transformed. i would also have to concur with patti smith who once reflected, “when you’re a young, wild 20-something, this spirit of invocation, can stir you mad inside.” the years may have been wild, and definitely at times mad, but they were also warm, crazy and beautiful.
like the ‘lost generation’ of 1920s writers (hemingway, fitzgerald, stein and some other ol’ boys), i too remember feeling a sense of moral loss, a sense of purpose perhaps gone at times, but like them who pioneered through trying times, i too will enter the start a new decade in strong stride, endless hope abound.
i close this chapter of my life with a line from one of my favourite poets, leonard cohen, “it’s wonderful to hear a 20-year old speaking about love.” and wonderful it is, to speak of love, to find love, to lose love … to be loved. whether it was a song, a book, a place, a person or just a day, these were years that i loved. without reservation, i wouldn’t have changed a thing.
and so, yes, my twenties, they roared. with loud laughter and bittersweet symphonies. i say bring on the dirty times that will be my thirties because as the alchemist himself–paulo coelho–writes “no one knows what is going to happen in the next few minutes and yet people still go forward, because they have trust, because they have faith.”
on your next birthday, whatever age you may be turning, keep your spirit forever young, continue forward … because growing up in life is a pretty profound, beautiful thing.
just incase you are curious about how i answered those probing questions on turning thirty (do you have any apprehensions about getting old? do you realise your priorities will need to change? do you regret any decisions that you’ve made? do you think you’ll miss your twenties? do you think your life is where you want it to be?) i’ll indulge over some cake while contemplate my answers …
on getting old … i’m not getting older, i’m just becoming wiser. my heart, my laughter and my spirit feels the youngest it has ever been.
on priorities changing … there is definitely something shifting inside of me but my values, worldview and life ethos, those are pretty much a constant. i’ll evolve no doubt with age, but what is important to me–knowledge, creativity, philanthropy, community, love, laughter, curiosity, honesty, sincerity, words, family and friends, these intrinsic values, they will never change.
on regretted decisions … i made some decisions that i knew even at the time were not right. and i embraced those wrong doings. but i also made some irrational decisions that turned out to be the best decisions of my life. messed up and vulnerable or joyous and ecstatic, i don’t have any regrets because clusterfucks, at times, can be fun.
on missing the golden age … being 20 in the decade (2000 to 2010) that some anthropologists call “the naughties”, nah i won’t miss them. especially when they were called the naughties ;). what happened in my 20s will stay in my twenties. thirties beware.
on where i want my life to be … exactly where it is–living appreciatively in the moment. i don’t really have a plan, although many of ambitions i do. but i can never answer the question of where i want to be because i fall asleep with one aspiration and end up following a different one when i wake.
on the inset of the card from my mother, she wrote, “we think of you everyday and we are so proud of you. it takes strength and courage to follow your dreams.” thanks mom, now at 30, courageous and strong, i’ll continue to follow those dreams.