I am writing you this letter from the Florida Keys on my surprise 30th Birthday trip, as orchestrated by your mother. In a moment of downtime I’ve taken a moment to reflect and both look back and look forward on a great many matters having to do with my life. In the past year, people have been expectantly awaiting my 30th birthday far more than I have. To me, it has been nothing but a psychotically satisfying number–in fact I’ve joked that I’m looking forward more to my 30th million (or my first!).
Many have said that I can’t be trusted at 30, or that 30 is the new 20 or that 50 is the new 30…but I don’t think I subscribe to these kinds of platitudes. Certainly one’s age should denote particular levels of maturity or responsibility in one form or the other, but I don’t think it should requisitely change your appreciation for the day, or your ability to enjoy the moment you are in. Our ages don’t mean anything except what we ascribe to them.
So while 30 is something of a societal landmark and, for many, is a demarkation of bonafide adulthood, and the time to get serious and get your life started I del like I’m already there. I have managed to start my life before hitting this number (and I question what “starting your life” means) and I’m taking it not as an onus but as a bonus. By this point in my life I’ve managed to achieve a great number of the things I’ve set out to do. This isn’t a brag but rather a moment to pause and congratulate myself on a good turn around. I did not start my 20s the way I did my 30s. I don’t expect my 40s will start the same either.
My 20s started with me as something of an overgrown “Bart Simpson: Underachiever” and ended with me exceedingly happy with a level of establishment I was able to pull together thanks to the loving support of my family and the taskmaster that I married, your wonderfully lovely mother. She lit a fire under me that got me off the pot and actualizing that potential I’d for so long been told about but never felt the motivation to potentiate in any way. I only hope that you and Ayla can someday find similarly motivating and supporting partners, who perhaps will not smilingly call you fat at every successful moment but who will defend you to the death against any undue or uncalled for criticism.
I look back at the past decade of my life and I see a 10 year stretch that started sitting and ended running, with no end in sight. From college and graduate degrees to weddings and children, to home ownership to business ownership, to professional advocacy to political loudmouthing, I’ve got a body of life accomplishments I am incredibly proud of…and none more than the fantastic people I created (with some help) in you and your sister.
I don’t know what the goals of my next 10 years will be, but I hope that they will include my doctorate, more advocacy, more writing and publishing, and more time with my family. The latter is the most important, and what is best in life (despite what Conan the Barbarian would have you believe). As a grown man, defined not by age but by the meeting of responsibility and the amount of positivity and love I can bring into the world, my family is and always will be my number one priority because I’m sure before I turn around you and your sister will be exactly where I am, starting a zero in the ones place and some societally important number in the tens spot. Maybe by the time you are 25 and I’m 50 those place values will hold some weight on me…but for now I’m just enjoying the ride and making the most positive waves I can.
Until then…happy birthday to me and my burned shoulders (thanks a lot farmer’s tan!).
PS You are so full of questions and wonders about the world. This past week your Great-Grandpa Herbie passed away and Papa G and Uncle Leigh went out to see him off in his home of Oregon. This filled you with a sudden sense of morality that I don’t think hit you as hard as when Grandma Sally passed earlier this year. You wondered about my life span, your grandparents, and eventually your own. We had a conversation about little g god and capital G God–at 4-years-old you had a difficult time accepting the existence of something you can’t see. I explained to you, and Ayla that god and God are felt in the love of family, the feeling of doing good, and in the beauty we find around us. There is no doubt plenty of that in both of your futures, just as it is in your present.
PPS Big thanks for Pa Kenny and Grandma Cheryl for bringing me into the world. Everyone is talking about my 30th anniversary, but nobody seems to be reminiscing about the fun of the 1984 LIJ Nurse’s strike. Neither my father, nor yours got that police escort on the way to the hospital with a wife in labor…maybe one of you will.