Monday, November 27, 2006

The dreaded (blank)-0

Perhaps I shouldn't be admitting this (particularly given my near-total disdain of cell phones and my mocking of those that are connected to their phones at all times), but I seem to be lost without access to e-mail! I discovered that this afternoon when my e-mail at work would just not co-operate. It put me in a miserable mood - I kept thinking, "Good lord, I wonder who's trying to get in touch with me?" I guess I too am one of those that needs a connection to the outside world while at work. Guilty as charged!

Anyway, that's the official digression.

I want to write about aging. It's been on my mind quite a bit lately. For one, I've had two separate conversations in the last month that have dealt with turning the ripe old age of 30. Of course I had to offer sage advice about how easy it was to turn 30, having traversed that road a few years back. And truthfully, my 30s have treated me rather well. There was some stability - a good long-term relationship and my first experience shacking up with someone (which, unfortunately, ended) - as well as some necessary turbulence, namely making the decision to change careers. (See, proof that one can make a big life change in their 30s - shit, if I can do it, anybody can.)

Fair warning: I'm going to quote the film Before Sunset again, so feel free to avert your eyes if that film offends you. (I've recently discovered that the Before Sunset/Sunrise films are truly polarizing - one seems to either love them or hate them.) Ok, maybe I'll just paraphrase. Essentially the Jesse/Ethan Hawke character makes some comment about aging and how comfortable he is with getting older. He says he was wracked with insecurity when he was younger. Yet, even though he's older and his problems are deeper, he's more emotionally equipped to handle them. And I guess that's how I largely feel about aging: yes, my body is not as fit as it used to be (actually, it probably is; I guess what it doesn't do is bounce back as quick after a tough run) but I also don't think I suffer from the same insecurity issues (although naturally they still linger; how boring we'd be if we were always so supremely confident; a little vulnerability is sexy). Most important, I do think I'm getting better as I get older. I think I'm more self-aware and better understand and appreciate myself and my motivations.

Yet, if I go back 20 years (and maybe that in of itself is mildly sad: that I've lived long enough where thinking back 20 years is not a stretch!) and ponder how I would view the life I'm living today, how would I judge how things have turned out? I probably had some preconceptions on how I'd be living a mid-30s life. For example, if you would ask me when I was teenager if I'd married by my mid-30s, I would have probably said "For sure." Hell, I probably thought I'd have kids by now too.

It does make me think about the expectations we have growing up. When we're young, we're fed a steady diet of what's "acceptable" and the "norm": marriage in our 20s, kids by the time we hit 30. However I haven't really lived much of a conventional life and so I haven't done very well at following this path. Do I regret not adhering to the "normal" (and having normal in quotes is deliberate) societal practices? I don't think so, namely because I seem to be living a reasonably happy life. Still, sometimes I wonder about the traditional life trajectory and whether I would have fit comfortably into it. Because even though I sometimes mock responsibility, I find that I enjoy being responsible.

Anyway, these are issues I'm still grappling with. It comes under the rubric of "Am I really happy with my life?" (Of course what a luxury it is to be able to think about these things.) I do think I'll continue to be a work in progress for quite a while.

Truth be told, I don't think I have any idea what the hell I'm writing about here. My thoughts are a mite jumbled this evening, and an hour is not long enough to really think through these issues.


mommy window said...

I think "normal" is a term better hidden away with terms like “fair”, “satisfied” and “happy” we know the Webster dictionary term but to apply it to the here and now of the “real world” is almost impossible. We are living with our own choices and normal is what we make of it. The important thing is what is in your heart and soul usually “normal” has nothing to do with it.

corvus said...

I wonder how many people out there, however conventional or "normal" they might seem to others, would ever say that the lives they're living are normal lives.