Sep 29, 2016

Today is my birthday (2)

Today is my 43rd birthday, and it seems just as impossible to be 43 as it felt to be 42. (One year ago today, I wrote this:

I am conscious of the curse of turning 43: shortly after their 43rd birthdays, two of my peers experienced broken bones and the sudden understanding of mortality. Or, if not mortality, then at least the fragility of the aging human body, which ultimately amounts to the same thing. (They were both playing baseball, though, so I figure I'm pretty safe as long as I avoid that particular sport, but you never know with curses.)

As an aside, sometimes while I'm riding my bicycle, helmetless, down the bike lane on a busy street, I imagine myself hitting a rock or a slippery patch of dirt and falling into traffic, my head popping like a grape under the tires of a passing transport truck. I'm not sure why I shared that with you; birthdays make me morbid, I guess.

A few months ago, I came across this quote from Freud, that pervy old rascal: "If youth knew; if age could." Wise words, Sigmund. What a shitty thing it is that we can never possess the wisdom and confidence of age and the indestructibility of youth at the same time. (If we could, I would probably learn to surf. I'm too goddamn old to do it now. I have recently taken up painting, which, as hobbies go, seems infinitely safer. I'm far more unlikely to pull an arm muscle splattering paint onto a canvas in my garage than I am trying to haul my body up onto a board in the ocean. Unless I really get into it. You never know with 43...)

Let's face it: getting older is a drag. Still, I wouldn't trade places with 25-year-old me for anything. I've had some pretty remarkable experiences and met some pretty remarkable people over the years. And I honestly like myself (you should probably like yourself by the time you hit 43). I have learned that comparing ourselves to others is senseless, be it physically, intellectually, financially, socially, or any of the myriad other ways we create meaningless hierarchies in the world. We can only ever be ourselves, and, so long as we don't intentionally harm others, that is a pretty okay way to be.

Nothing really changes with the passing of time. Or maybe everything changes, but so imperceptibly that one hardly notices until all those minor changes add up to one singular calamity: a broken hip or a heart attack, a divorce or a death, either real or symbolic.

Hell, life is a calamity. What a strange thing it is to exist both consciously and physically, to be capable of both uncontrollable emotions and rational thought (and to have to navigate the oft-incompatible waters of the two), to be both fundamentally solitary and yet unavoidably social beings.

I have written myself into a moment of existential angst, so I guess I will end these birthday musings with the philosophy that helps me deal with the paradox that is life (and that is, not coincidentally, the title of this blog). So happy birthday to me, and happy birthday to you, too, whenever it falls. It's astonishing that we're here together at all, so let's make the most of it. Ah well, and riot on. xo