You’d think there might be big epiphanies after 31 years of existence. But that’s not the case. At least for me anyway.
On one hand growing older feels like a discerning scribe capturing acute particulars of a scene. They are bringing the details into ever increasing sharpness. On the other hand it’s like taking a step back from a picture you’ve been staring intently at, only to realize the painting is much larger in scope and complexity than you realized from your first, narrow vantage point. And you appreciate that the things you look at change in composition depending on just how close you are to it.
Thus the boundary between 30 and 31 came to pass, and nothing perceptible really happened. I was flooded with a sense of sadness upon waking, got caught up in comparisons to a vague sense of where I thought I ought to be, rollicked in joy at all the years I (hopefully) have in front of me, and grappled with day-to-day existence type shit, like where to go for lunch and “I should really respond to that email.”
In the end, I got to climb and play with a dog so it was a good day (as are all days where I get to climb and play with dogs).
As part and parcel of aging, I like to reflect on the past year. Rather than share lessons learned (which tend to be overly generalized in order to be relatable), here is a list of 31 things I’m grateful for (which make me feel good to think about, and might add some brightness to your day too):
- Supportive and loving family. Those that put up with your shit when you are younger, who encourage you as you grow, which are are there for you through good and bad… No idea where I’d be without them
- Healthy body that let’s me move in the world on my own volition, that let’s me express myself through motion
- The open, random, dance of the world; That you never really know where a day may lead
- Good coffee and a good book
- Moments of silence and stillness. Of feeling light, like you might float away; When weight becomes discarded and you are left simply buoyant, unburdened
- The sense of no separation that arises in rare moments, typically in nature; An electric expansiveness you don’t know whether it will ever stop, is beyond your conception of space, and which is unimportant in the moment, because. Everything.
- Lounging (and otherwise) in bed until the afternoon with someone you love. No cares but to be close, as close as you can
- Running light and free through forests, fields, city streets, across hills, along trails, in puddles, up stairs, weaving between crowds
- A big meal after a long run (usually pizza)
- Wandering, openly, absentmindedly in nature. And, walking around cities without a direction other than to follow the initial twitch of interest toward a certain place
- The way you feel engaged and tuned in to each movement on a rock face
- Poetry and art that shakes you
- Laughing so hard it hurts
- That once-in-a-while orange that is otherworldly sweet. Fresh apples off the tree, sliced. Ripe peaches that unleash torrents of nectar down your chin and hand when you bite into it. Frozen grapes that crunch and cool. Blueberries off the bush in the mountains. Has citrus ever been so tangy?
- For ocean spray spritzing away and the sound of rolling waves, especially over a pebble beach; A vacuuming crash then rainstick needles falling and spreading, all the small bits, rolling along, rocking back and forth, click click click, silence and air drawn in. Repeat
- For sun rises over water or mountain, and sunsets from a hill
- Watching dumb movies with friends and genuinely enjoying it
- Of learning self-love and compassion. I’m pretty alright after all
- Oh hands in dirt and watching plants grow. That smell of richly alive soil, fuming with a sense of time immemorial, which also happens to smell like minerals, decaying leaves, and belonging
- For animals, so many animals: Puppies (they are all puppies), kitties (same story), sheep, chickens, goofy ducks, cows, etc.
- The smell of fresh snow in a pine forest. The sound of it crunching underfoot. Similarly, the shuffling, swishing, crackling of leaves as you walk about in Autumn
- The smell of a light rain on a warm summer day, all metallic and crisp
- That look you get when you know she loves you
- Laying in piles of powder and watching the whirling flakes dance across your vision. The feeling of snow sprinkles melting on your face. For that matter, drifting away in open fields on a pillow of grass and letting the sky fill up your visual field
- The way Ollie still tinkles himself when he’s excited. The way Brin still runs away
- Giving a small gift, or thoughtful compliment, or cracking a joke just to see her smile
- Pocket-sized notebooks and a pen with ink that flows just right
- The shedding that comes with a good laugh and a good cry
- Getting up extra early for no damn reason, having the city to yourself and watching it wake up
- People, books, and music that seem to come into your life just when you need them
- That first step into a new land after a long, long ride