1.02.2012

This is the Last Year I Can Say I'm 39 and Not Be Lying


It's my 39th birthday today. I feel young and old. Young because hopefully I have more than half my life ahead of me, because I feel good, and because I have a lovely wife and two beautiful kids to keep me going. Old because more and more famous people I read about, past and present, are or were younger than me. Did you know that Malcolm X and Martin Luther King both died at 39? George Gershwin and Roberto Clemente only made it to age 38, while John Lennon and Edgar Allan Poe made it to 40. All these accomplished far more than I ever will, even if live twice as long as they do.

For us ambitious sorts, growing old is a matter of making peace with what you can and cannot do. I can no longer read about something cool that someone has accomplished and think, "If I apply myself, I can attain to that by the time I get to be their age," because in more and more cases, these people are younger than me! It's enough to make you feel over the hill.

I am being overly dramatic and melancholy for effect. I am not feeling down about myself. But nor am I glamorizing the aging process, or putting on false airs of humility about being able to be at peace with who I am. I still struggle with drivenness and discontentment, with wishing I could accomplish more and beating myself up that I have not accomplished more. Turning 39 is a natural marking point to look forward and back. I like who I am, who I've been, and who I'll have time to become. But I wrestle daily with my demons, as I'm sure do many like me who are in my stage of life.

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