In which you read
The ramblings of a geriatric fuck
Quick reflections while saying ‘good-bye’ to my twenties
Tomorrow I turn 30, the big three-oh.
I’d dreaded the day as far back as two and a half years ago. When I turned 28, it really began to sink in just how close to the next decade I was. I began to get a real flavor of what John Mayer meant when singing his plea to “stop this train” because he couldn’t “take the speed it’s moving in.”
The last half year or so, however, I’ve gotten over such silly anxieties. Maybe it’s because of having my attention hijacked by the swirl of crazy we’ve seen the last year and a half. Maybe it’s because of being far too busy with grinding out value for the quickly growing company I’m a part of.
Or maybe it’s just part of the aging process itself. Something inherent in the personal evolution that one undergoes as the years continue to unfold.
You learn to accept life for what it is, or at least you hope to. Otherwise, you’ll be in for a bumpy ride as the remaining years crash in with incessant surprises, not all of which are of the pleasant variety.
So, I’m not worried about it anymore. If anything, I’m actually excited. It’s time to put my mark on a new decade. Hell, I’m old enough to now know that I might not actually get another full decade, so I’ve gotta make sure to squeeze all the juice out while I can.
The activism flows from realizing I have control of how I act. I have direct influence on my behavior, my deeds, and my interactions with others. That said, I’d best do the best I can with what I’ve got.
Voltaire said it well from the other side:
Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do.
Simply put, I intend to do good while I can.
Tomorrow I may not have the health to act. In a year’s time I may see myself lacking the funds with which to underwrite charitable action.
There’s no telling what the future will bring, but I know what I have at present that I can bring to bear on the future. That’s what counts, and that’s what I’m accountable for.
Yet, at the same time, there is a sense in which absolutely none of it matters. The apostle James says that our lives are “but a vapor.” Here and then gone, like a morning’s mist.
Marcus Aurelius put it this way:
Everything fades so quickly, turns into legend, and soon oblivion covers it. And those are the ones who shone.
— Marcus “Mic Droppin’” Aurelius
The many celebrities who died in 2016 got their final moments of fame in the days following their death. Some of them will have little blips of remembrance for yet a little while longer (e.g. Bruno Mars paying tribute to Prince at the Grammy’s).
But will anyone be dressing up as such-and-such 5 years from now? Will there be mentions in award ceremonies of so-and-so’s contributions in another 25 years? What about a hundred? A thousand?
Aurelius crushes it when he says “and those are the ones who shone.” He goes on to say that for the rest of us—“unknown, unasked-for,” as he bluntly describes our lot—the fading away isn’t described as happening “so quickly,” but is “a minute after death.”
So, who the hell cares? Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.
Do Something Good
Owning the reality of death’s certainty alongside the ephemeral nature of our existence and its itty bitty contribution to the whole of the cosmos is sobering. It is grounding to those who want to do something to leave a dent on this world. It keeps you anchored to the universe’s perpetual state of motion, never slowing down to honor anyone or anything.
At the same time, having a sturdy, robust vision of goodness and truth and beauty defangs that sense of realism. This stops it from dragging us down into despair and complete nihilism. When an otherwise nihilistic vantage point has an appropriate sense of transcendental goodness, it won’t run itself off a cliff into the abyss of having an abysmal view of life.
Realism will keep your do-goodery from crushing you, feeling as though it were somehow up to you to solve all the world’s problems—as if you even could. And the recognition of an ultimate good for humanity will counterbalance realism from plunging you into a hollow, emptied sense of being; helping you to escape existing only because existing happens to be what you found yourself already doing.
I suppose what I’m trying to say here is that I’m more prepared than ever—finally, at the age of 30—to live. Going into my thirties is exciting precisely because I know I will die. More, I know that I’m closer to death than I’ve ever been.
But I also know that I’m not dead yet. As long as that is true there is yet time to do something, and I have the means of making sure it’s something worth doing—something good.
Good for my wife. Good for my children. Good for my business. Good for my family at large. Good for my community. Good for those that who are in need. Good for other people’s general well-being. Good for our planet. Good for our species’ future. Good for goodness’ sake.
So, I’m turning thirty. And ya, I think that it’s gonna be pretty good.
P.S. Speaking of doing good, I give for every rec my posts receive. Find out more down below.
P.S.S. I wrote this while I was 29, but edited after crossing over to the other side. So far thirty is pretty great, though still incredibly strange and foreign feeling to say I’m thirty.
P.S.S.S. Still not as weird as saying “President Donald Trump.” C’mon, you didn’t think he’d somehow not make a cameo in one of my posts, did you? I may be thirty, but I’m certainly not dead.
About the author
Hi there, my name is John. I love having conversations. My posts are an attempt to start some. Please join in the conversation via commenting or sharing.
Also, I’ve begun committing to donating a dollar to the Against Malaria Foundation for every recommend my posts receive within its first month. This isn’t a gimmick. It’s a quantifiable method for encouraging and reminding me to give to things I care about.
Thanks for reading and sharing.