I am nearly two weeks into a new year in my life, a new age.
As per my usual pre-birthday ritual, I panicked a bit. I always worry that between one day and the next, there will be some massive change. That things will get drastically worse simply because I’ve celebrated another year of my life. There was a period of time when I wasn’t wrong–things felt like they just kept going from bad to worse, and my birthday was always right in the middle of it. And then there was a period of time when I was wrong–things were okay. More than okay, often.
Actually, I’m still in that period now, where things are more than okay. And I’m in another period where my birthday celebrations last for more than just one day. (I particularly enjoy these more-than-one-day celebrations because they take the pressure off of trying to make my actual birthday a good day.) My birthday week involved an evening with a friend from New Zealand, a weekend with two of my old roommates from Ireland, dinner with family, a baseball game with my father, another dinner with family, and more birthday wishes than I could count.
So far into this new year, there has been laughter–more than I remember having in my life before. I don’t think that’s actually the case though. There is usually quite a bit of laughter (often thanks to my hilarious friends). Laughter is so important because it makes things better–easier, sweeter, more enjoyable, more full, and, of course, funnier. And with everything else that life brings–pain and grief and loss–laughter is absolutely necessary. The belly-shaking, stomach-aching, knee-slapping, eye-tearing kind that has you rolling on the floor or falling out of your seat, and eventually it wears you out. A night full of laughter makes things okay. It helps keep us young and in the moment. What does living in the moment have to do with staying young though? It can be far less stressful to live in the moment. To make choices day by day instead of trying to map out a ten year plan. To enjoy what you have instead of constantly wishing for more.
Age is a number, one that many people get easy wrapped up in. There is an overall obsession with age. Accomplishing certain things by this age or gaining success by another age. Being too young or too old. I know that I worry about it often as well. Have I done enough for my age? Should I have done more earlier, or is it okay to be one or two steps behind? But it is crazy. So you’ve been alive for so many years and you’ve accomplished so many things and you’ve hit so many milestones… But how old are you really? Are the years you have been alive the only marker that represents you? And how do your years compare to someone else’s? They don’t.
What really counts, I believe, are how old your mind, your body, and your soul are. The “ages” of each of these things do not always correspond. You can have an old soul, but a young body and mind. An old body with the mind and soul of a teenager. A wise, old mind with the soul and body of a college student. Whatever your age, it is important to treat each part of you appropriately: to challenge and teach your mind; to nourish, grow, and strengthen your body; to brighten and expand your soul.
At the end of the day, your years on this earth will not make or break you. It is what you do with your time that counts most, but remember–there is no deadline or limit to when you need to check things off of a list. In my new year, I want to take my time. I want to explore and learn more. I want to make myself a better person. I want to write, to dream, to be.
What will you do with your new year?