Today is my 30th birthday. It’s a day that pop culture tells me I should fear and worry over. A day I haven’t really thought about these last six years, focused as I’ve been on wringing every last drop from my 20s. It’s a day that, though no different from any other day, marks a psychological occasion for many people.
I’m happy to find myself more excited than trepidatious: I can’t wait to see what happens next, and what I might be able to accomplish and experience these next ten years. What amazing people I might meet, world events I might watch unfold, discoveries and inventions I might benefit from.
I wrote a book entitled Act Accordingly a few years ago, and followed it up with a book called Considerations. Both books address a similar topic: how we spend our time. We’re all dealt different cards when we’re born, and we all encounter different variables along the way. We have different ideals, different hopes and dreams, different tastes and preferences, and greater or smaller quantities of time to spend than the person standing next to us.
But we all struggle to spend our time well. To use it to the utmost, getting the most possible bang for our time-related buck. This manifests in similar ways for most people, if you look around. We look to others to see if they have the answers. We follow pre-carved trails and pre-posted signs. We learn all we can about this and that, hoping that the knowledge gleaned will allow us to divine where we need to be, what we should be doing. We do our best to find good people, people who add to our lives rather than subtracting from them. We change and grow. We stumble and regret. We fail and succeed, sometimes simultaneously; the same outcome can be achieved from both failure and success depending on what we learn as a result.
For the past six years, I’ve been able to fully invest in my curiosity. To wonder and think, to question and marvel, to mull and ponder and meander until, sometimes, I arrive at a new realization. I’ve steadily become a better writer, but that growth is nothing compared to how much better I’ve gotten at sitting quietly and thinking difficult thoughts. I often forget that I’m technically a professional author, not a professional confused person struggling to figure out where all the pieces go, coming up for air on occasion to jot down what I’ve sussed out and to wonder how those things might apply to myself and others.
Six years ago I left the path I’d long been following. I rescaled and then discontinued the business I’d worked hard to build and operate. I stepped back, figured out what I actually wanted to be doing with my life, and refocused on travel and the pursuit of new information and experiences. I got rid of everything that didn’t fit into carry-on luggage and started up a blog, asking strangers from the internet to vote on where I would move every four months or so.
Three years ago, I founded a publishing company with a couple of like-minded fellows who over the years have become incredible friends and collaborators. Through that company we’ve had the opportunity to work with some incredible creatives and do some amazing things.
Today, I woke up and smiled. I shook my head at how strange and amazing life can be. I feel incredibly fortunate to become a little more me every single day.
Not a bad way to spend my time.
Update: April 21, 2017
I had my 32nd birthday less than a week ago, and felt a similar sense of slow, quiet satisfaction with the way things have gone.
There are always ups and downs, and there are sluggish periods and fast-paced, nutty adventures, but all add up to something really wonderful that I feel immensely fortunate to experience. It wasn’t easy to build this lifestyle, and the trade-offs involved are substantial. But wow has it ever been worth it.