Note: This is an excerpt from my upcoming book, How To Turn 39, which is about aging and how we might do it better, and which will officially be available for pre-sale in just under a week (my 39th birthday is the 16th, so that’s when it formally goes live). It will hit shelves and e-shelves (as an ebook, paperback, and audiobook) one month later, May 16th.

I’ll make a more intelligible pitch for pre-buying next week (and provide more links through which you can do so, if you’re so inclined), but if you’re keen to snag an ebook copy you can already pre-purchase one on Amazon, and the more people who pre-buy, the better the book looks to Amazon’s algorithms, and consequently the more likely it is to be shown to people who aren’t already familiar with my work, which is super helpful, especially for independent authors who lack access to the marketing mechanisms of large publishers, like myself.

In the meantime though, please enjoy this chapter from the book (one of 50), Seasonality:

It’s tempting to perceive ourselves as monolithic and unchanging, but the only truly consistent thing about human beings is our tendency to change. This is true at both micro and macro scales, and a collection of relatively minor changes can aggregate, over time, into truly substantial evolutions.

These larger developments can delineate entirely new phases of our lives, demarcating (for instance) our high school years from our college years, our early working lives from our early days as parents.

We can define such periods based on a whim, or on the significance of specific moments and the intervals containing them. Elements of our lives will change at different speeds and cadences, too, our relationships metamorphosing before our careers or our sense of meaning iterating before our culinary preferences.

Perceiving our lives as a sequence of seasons can be useful, as it redefines the changes we experience as something akin to the whims of the weather, or the transition from trees filled with green foliage to paths paved with red and orange leaves.

The world will change, we will change, and many of these changes will be uncomfortable, disconcerting, painful, and weird. Many will also be creativity-inducing, awe-inspiring, and fulfilling.

Viewing these progressions as natural can help us mentally recategorize what’s happening as just something that happens, or a collection of unpredictable somethings, many of which we’ll enjoy, some of which not so much. In either case, though, neutral occurrences about which we needn’t feel any particular way, and which we can experience and respond to however we choose.

The seasons we live through as we age also provide us with the opportunity to break free of previous expectations, assumptions, and limits, liberating us to explore and experiment broadly, and to experience and learn and embrace new things—all of which provides us with raw materials we can use to construct the next chapter of our lives.

Aging thus becomes a process of growing less certain, but more confident over time, as we continue to encounter things that challenge our previous assumptions and paradigms, but which also remind us we can incorporate what we learn from these encounters into ourselves, growing from such exposure, rather than being compressed or reduced by it.

This perspective also encourages us to engage with new things productively, openly, and enthusiastically, as we never know what will be valuable to future versions of ourselves (people who may be similar or radically distinct from our current manifestations).

In this way, we become less likely to push away from new ideas, norms, and technologies, and that helps us maintain a foothold in the world, even as we continue to refine our sense of who we are in relation to everyone and everything else.

We are all lifelong projects, and one of our perennial tasks is noting the adversities with which we struggle so we can develop coping mechanisms, support systems, and solutions that’ll later aid us with these otherwise persistent plagues.

If we struggle with financial issues, we figure out how to address and maintain that aspect of our lives. If we have health problems, have depression, or are not great with relationships, we note these things, pinpoint the flaws, vulnerabilities, misinterpretations, misunderstandings, or knowledge-gaps, and then with time—perhaps a long time, perhaps no time at all—we fill in those gaps, reinforce those weak-spots, and over the course of however many seasons it takes, rebalance how we live until we no longer suffer from these things (or at least not as much).

The goal is to arrive at a point in which we would not give up a year of the lives we’ve lived for anything, because we’ve learned and done and grown so much that we wouldn’t want to lose any of our hard-earned maturation.

If you’d like to pro-order How To Turn 39you can do so here.

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