Reflections on my 32nd Birthday

First, please click here to see my latest op ed on the “Pink Wave” of female candidates that ran during these pivotal midterm elections. Many of them were Democrats, representing progressive change, and I, for one, hope they not only put pressure on Trump and his ilk but also on the Democratic Party establishment. This country’s political class needs more women, more people of color, more young people, and, most of all, a more left-leaning agenda that includes subsidized college tuition, Medicare-for-all, a $15 minimum wage, campaign finance reform, immigration reform, police and prison reform, and a far more peaceful and just foreign policy (in my humble opinion).

My birthday reflection

If there is one thing I have learned from my birthdays since turning 30, it is not to take them too seriously. As a child I was spoiled to the point where each birthday and Christmas was akin to winning the lottery. This is not the case when you’re an adult (unless you have very rich friends and family). I have had to humble myself and realize that wishes take work. Blowing out candles on a cake does not success make.

Also, I have had to learn that the real gifts are meaningful experiences, which lead to meaningful memories, which lead to the satisfaction of a life well lived. Living well means not fixating on “what you get” out of a particular moment; it means surrendering to that moment. It means experiencing the positive and negative emotions that come with every moment. In fact, when you are truly experiencing, as opposed to judging or evaluating, positive and negative labels disappear.

My goal is to celebrate my birthday. The how or who with (because gathering people together during the week is always fucking hard) is not as important as the why. I’m celebrating my birthday because, despite the relentless pressure of money, status, masculinity, libido, politics, life goals, inner critics, semi-alcoholism, and existentialist despair, I have survived another year. And not only did I survive, I feel much better than I did when I turned 31. Of the ten worst things that have happened in my life, THREE of them occurred between my 31st and 32nd birthday. In short, I lost my job, my girlfriend, and the closest thing I ever had to a father in the span of five months. The anxiety that resulted made me feel as if I were losing my mind on top of it all. And when you lose your mind, you lose everything. I would say ‘if not for the grace of God, I wouldn’t be standing,’ but I am not a religious person. People keep me here standing and fighting, and people –who I’ll never forget — continue to fight for me.

It is not a modest accomplishment to find myself not only standing at this point — but walking and smiling. This is why I celebrate aging yet another year.

To quote one of my favorite TV characters (Walter White): “Fear. That’s the worst of it. That’s the real enemy. So get up, get out in the real world, and you kick that bastard as hard as you can right in the teeth.”

Not literally, of course.

 

 

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