Waxing Candles

So it happened. I knew it would, I’m not naïve. I had, however, assumed it might come at 30 +, but nope… 29 is the magic number when you switch from candles that denote your age to the more euphemistic two or three that mark your transition to “old”.

Yesterday I entered the last year of my 20s… I’m not sure if it’s that, visiting home and seeing lives moving along much like they’re expected to, or getting engaged, but I’ve been thinking a lot about the future these days.

A tricky thing, the future. I mean, it doesn’t really exist does it? For all the thinking, planning and worrying we do about it… it’s just our imaginations that create the idea. There never has been nor will there ever be a future. The present is all we have.

But then the problem we run into is that if we use the “live in the present” mantra that those damn hippies made popular we end up 45, renting an apartment on the rough side of town and working midnights as a security guard trying desperately not to think about the fact that we’ve got no pension, no benefits and no cable.

I mean, I’ve always straddled that line. I’m not exactly climbing the corporate ladder, at least not in any traditional sense. Though at the same time I’m always thinking about what I can do now to build for the future… which I’ve already admitted, doesn’t exist – and then I go in circles.

It’s the curse of the new generations I think. We’re not happy punching buttons or crunching numbers, but we want all the things we’re told we need. We live in a world where innovation and “thinking outside the box” is what’s expected to succeed, but is tougher and tougher to find or figure out.

I guess it’s just growing up. You stumble through it, do your best and things seem to sort themselves out. It’s like having kids (another very grown up thing to do). There are people who plan having kids down to the expected costs (with inflation) of their first four years of eating expenses. And there are people who just find themselves with a baby popping out and not much idea on what to do next. By the end of the first five years I think, mostly, it evens out. The first group of parents mellows out and realizes you can’t plan everything, and the second group sorts things out and learns what they need to do.

Life, I think, hope, expect, is much the same way… whether you plan every detail or take it as it comes … it’s going to happen its own way and if you’ve got the right attitude you’ll generally look back on that other fiction – the past – and feel positive about the choices you’ve made. Whether they made things better or more difficult, if you’re happy with the present, it’s hard not to appreciate that those choices brought you to where you are.

I’m 29, and I’m happy. Rock on.

10 Responses

  1. happy birthday. Welcome to the last year of your “youth”. We should get some shirts with the word OLD MAN on them.
    for me its not the age thing that makes me feel old. its when i don’t understand what a 16 year old says or when i don’t recognize the names on the billboard music chart. That has happened and i feel old.

    chicanohek

  2. do you have white hairs? i found my first white hair last week and im only 22. what the heck is going on? ..it’s…growing up, like what you said, but white hair is no fun at all.
    …God are you there? this is Elena. i know i have complained about people mocking me and taking me as 17 years-old highschool student. but now i take back my complainment. please, please!

  3. @Hek: Hehe… I’d totally be in for wearing that shirt. Though you should go easy on yourself… the 16-year-olds and the charts are all in Chinese 😉

    @fiLi: Thanks… I am pretty happy. I mean, I think everyone has up days and down days… but in my opinion it (and by it I mean life) comes down to perspective. Travelling and now having lived in other countries gives you a bit more perspective on things and so it’s easier to be content I think.

    @meiandmyself: About 10 months ago my fiance found a grey hair on my head… I pulled it out and saved it… 🙂

  4. hey ryan! just to say i really liked this article- it seemed really heart felt and obviously you were struggling abit in the whole life-direction front and have come to a very content conclusion that all is going just fine. i liked it as it made me think about two things. firstly something i have been thinking about alot recently- my bro and i are opposites, he is incapable or at least just avoids planning ahead. he is looking for a flat at the mo but hasn’t considered the money issue ie has no job and no money, whilst i, being a virgo, am constantly thinking ahead-saving money and planning the next six months of my life in detail. i am concluding that you need a balance of these two extremes to be motivated and have a sense of security yet on the other hand u can get obsessed with thinking ahead and miss out on the present, esp enjoying simple little things infront of you. i think you got the balance pretty much right-from what i saw you know what u got infront of u, ie maggie you both know u have a future infront of u but you are also spontainous ie still in china-not Australia, and that was a gutsy decision! so happy birthday, keep livin the next 29 yrs like u did the last and who knows what u will be doin when ur 58?! exciting eah!- oh the second thing im going to leave for now- u made me think about postmodernism which i havent touched on since my dissertation but ill leave that for next time we bump into each other! ps is bakin in london-37 at mo, bet its worse over east. havin wheaten bread and coffee at mo for breakfast-wouldnt swap it for all the weed in china!! later alligator

  5. Hey Maeve, thanks for the wordy comment… though I had to run it through Babelfish at points to make sense of some of your Belfast-cum-London-isms. 😉

    It may be hotter in the east, but I’m to your west right now. 🙂

    I agree with you, balance is the key.

  6. @Phoebs: Gandhi would be proud 😉

    @Tom: Hao Hao that brotha…

    @Wesley: Not bad advice, but what’s with the double linking yourself? I nearly erased the comment as spam.

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