Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On Birthdays and the Passage of Time

Diary-type post. Good Lord, run for the hills and hope for something funny soon!

When last you read anything new on these electronic pages, your humble host was a mere 28 years old. He is now, through the magical processes of time and over the course of a scant few days, one whole year (365 days) older!

A magic trick? An act of time travel or accelerated aging? Or simply the passage of an arbitrary date which people use as a measure of progress?

At what moment in life are people capable of driving a car? At what hour does one suddenly develop the ability to handle a large metal piece of machinery and use it for transportation and not for running into curbs, mailboxes, parked cars and bushes?

At what second does one instantly mature to the point where one can be trusted to responsibly intoxicate oneself?

(At what point will the questions stop and an actual definitive sentence be written in this godforsaken post?)

Presumably, only once a clock somewhere strikes midnight is one suddenly transformed from a caterpillar into a glorious beer-drinking, cigarette-smoking, car-driving, draft-dodging, all-knowing butterfly.

There is a template out there somewhere in the collective consciousness that from time to time we lay across the course of our own lives, and from this template we expect to measure our advancement. At X I am supposed to graduate from college; at Y I should have made a certain amount of progress in my profession; at Z I ought to have a spouse and a certain amount of children, etc. Have I met X,Y and Z? If so, am I happy? If not, am I unhappy? How’s my 401(k) lookin'?

I don’t know what we expect, really: to turn 30 and suddenly, like a shiny new driver’s license, we are presented with a a promising career, a young family and a guaranteed retirement by no later than 60. The longer I live, though, the more I believe life isn’t lived from milestone to milestone, not from year to year, but from day to day and moment to moment.

I’m not sure exactly what to do with this revelation/delusion. I recognize that I’m rapidly approaching the point where the aforementioned template is supposed to become a very real gage of progress. I’m not entirely certain I really care (yet). Given the most recent passage of an arbitrary milestone, as well as an expansion of ‘alone time’ I’ve spent, it seems as good a time as any to reflect.

Man, if this is what you get at 29, imagine what will happen when the clock strikes 30!

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