My birthday is a couple of weeks off. Thirty-seven this time.
The numbers don’t freak me out. I looked forward to 30, really — so grown up! — and 35 was just another day in October, no different from 34 or 36.
I am intrigued, though, by the other things that change thanks to the march of time. It’s no special revelation really — we’ve all reached the point where we’ve realized that what would have been devastating at 22 is manageable at 36 thanks to resources and perspective, that a heartbreak may be terrifying but it’s not terminal, that we can compensate for the holes in our family lives by creating our own families, that we have capacities and strengths we haven’t even begun to fathom.
Of course, every coin has two sides, and I do indulge in an inventory of where I am, what my lifetime balance sheet looks like.
At almost-37, I am grateful for my expanded horizons, for my family and friends, for a good career and a fairly sensible set of priorities. In all, I am content.
Of course, there is wistfulness about what, by necessity, recedes behind me.
I’m not unhappy with the here and now, but I do wonder about what I might have missed. I try, futilely, to identify which decisions changed my course, landed me where I am.
At 22, I did see husbands and babies in my future — some days a tall man, some days a blonde man, some days two boys or two girls. Not that these doors are closed to me now, I just have to look around different corners than I did 10 years ago.
And I do get a little sad when I think about time wasted. I can finally see that I can’t make people who I want them to be. I realize now that I really could have done better things with the time I spent worrying about what people think of me.
There are still things I want to do — school and travel and maybe, maybe those babies. But life intrudes and I find my goals for the year slipping to the next year and the next year. So I need to take more control and set my priorities and git ‘er done. The only way to avoid regretting time wasted is to quit wasting it.