July 20th, 2007

classified outreach (pic by me)

A dragon looks at thirty*

I've got a birthday about to start in just a few hours.** Up until this morning, it was weighing heavily on my mind.

Something in my brain must feel awful betrayed at the rolling of the odometer, because I literally have not been able to think of turning 30 for weeks without the thought flitting past my brain: "It's been a good run." That's not the thought of a man passing a milestone. That's the thought of a man indulging in a little eschatological nostalgia.

Consciously, I know this seems ridiculous; unconsciously, I can't shake it.

It's a contradiction that I've been living with for a while. Take -- for example -- that both of my parents (in their late 60s) are still alive, and my odds at that longevity (the human average) are at least as good. But at the same time, I would already be 12 years dead if it weren't for 20th-century medicine's fortuitous talent for appendectomies.***

That's a sobering thought ... that everything I've made of my adult life is, essentially, time brazenly stolen out from under the nose of a patient and vindictive Death.

And yet ... and yet.

As morbid as my reflection was, it's true. Looking back from 30, it has been a good run. My legacy is one of living, of loving, of creation.**** What more could be done, except to keep giving, and to grow the castle upon that foundation?*****

This morning, something in my subconscious must have come to that realization, too, because I had a dream that threw it all into sharp relief.

It was a simple dream. My family, kadyg and I were all piled in a car, driving through richly forested Washington state, following the Pacific Crest Trail along and occasionally getting out for some day hiking or to offer some trail support to the thru-hikers nearing the end of their journey. The weather was perfect, and I was spending a lot of time basking in the sunshine and taking in the views.

Then the five of us ran across a thru-hiker, and all crammed like sardines into the car in order to take her in to town. "The Rose" was on the radio, and someone turned it up, and we were all singing along. Except the lyrics had been changed.

I am left with the last thing I sang, proudly, full of wonder and contentment, before the alarm clock buzzed: "I have given too many reasons / That bind my soul to life."

And that's it, really. As morbid as I might want to be, honoring the closure of a decade, there's just too much to like here. If something were to happen to me, it has been a good run and I wouldn't have many regrets -- but I would sure regret not getting enough time to take everything in that Earth's got to offer.

Here's to hoping I can say the same for decades to come.

* Because we just can't get enough of the cultural references here.
** Not true. I wrote the first part of this post in between shifts on what turned out to be a 16-hour workday. I've got another 10 starting in seven four hours. What a way to leave behind my 20s. *sigh*
*** Though packbat brought up this very topic days ago, I wasn't able to catch up on my flist until after I wrote this. Any thoughts of personal mortality are completely my own and not inspired by recent memes.
**** I also, with approximately 15 minutes left to spare, have finally lost my network administration virginity. Yes! For lo, I have hand-crimped my first CAT5 cable.
***** Also, apologies for the halfway-intentional free verse of this paragraph.