Tonight my watch will strike midnight, and that will end my third decade of life. It is with cautious optimism that I step into my 30s, hoping I can be a little more consistent in this decade. Self reflection in blog format is often so indulgent, but if not now, when? Ending a decade and beginning another is certainly cause to stop have a look around.
First of all, let's get one thing straight: I don't feel like I'm getting old because I'm turning 30. Americans fear aging like the caveman must have feared the saber tooth, but I like to think I have a little more dignity than to fear a mathematical certitude. But among my kind (by this I refer to American boys), this fear has filtered all the way down to the not even fully grown. This fear of growing old has even infected myself.
There are two ways to fear growing old. There is the fear of death, that one is obvious, and then there is the fear of responsibility. My generation has avoided the fear of responsibility by attempting to extend childhood, and childish behavior, well into their 20s. Much of my generation labors under the misapprehension that once you marry and settle down, you are basically signing onto your slow death.
If that were true then you would be right to try and avoid it. And for many it is true. Why? Because life is what you make it. Life is an art, you've got to put some time and thought and effort into it if you want a good one. It is also a grind. The average person has 30,000 days to put in before they shuffle off to the undiscovered country--I don't know about you, but I find that a bit daunting. As Earl Partridge said, "Life ain't short, it's long. It's long, goddamn it." (Please pardon Earl's language, he's old and cantankerous and on his deathbed, it's hard to blame him.) I've tried to fight against this extension of childhood. I failed miserably in my early 20s. I've tried to do better since then. Getting married helped. But there has been a residual demon that I have not done a good job of fighting.
I find it hard to think of myself as a Man. My dad is a Man. My father-in-law is a Man. Guys who are generally older than me are Men, but I have found it hard to feel as if I am one myself. I do not feel like I am still a boy, but I feel somehow trapped in the between place where things are awkward and I don't know where to put my hands, so to speak. There was one point where I started looking around, started sizing things up, but then it faded. The sensation of being a Man has come, for me, in fits and starts.
But now it is time to put childish things away. If I am to be 30, then I simply have no choice but to be a Man.
If not now, when?