Kind of Red

May 10, 2012

30 for 30

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Painted One @ 12:15 pm

I am 30

“The glory of young men is their strength: and the beauty of old men is the gray head.”

-Proverbs 20:29

On this day three weeks ago, I turned thirty.   Though I have had plenty of opportunity to consider that notion over the span of the past twenty-one days, I still find it a bit surreal to fathom that I have walked the earth for three decades.  Our culture has placed deep significance on this milestone, and along with it come expectations for the subtle amalgamation of juvenescent vigor and geriatric wisdom, the impulsive imagination of anklebiters and the guarded optimism of elders.  In other words, some time around thirty, we are supposed to enter the prime of life, while have the strength to fulfill our goals and the understanding to examine the costs associated with those desires.  It is then that we should meet our strength with our beauty so to speak.

There would seem to be no shortage of musings on life, death and aging.  I have even contributed to the discussion.  Aging seems to fascinate us in ways few other phenomena can.  The inevitable descent of our youthfulness is both fascinating and frightening.  The slowed pace, the new wrinkles on the face and the sprinkling of gray hair are subtle reminders that death will come for us all.  If we live long enough, we all grow old and die.  Perhaps the certainty of death and its promise of mortality intrigue us because we know we cannot escape it, despite our many efforts to the contrary.  Suffice to say, thirty is not the new twenty, as it was once suggested.  Thirty is thirty, and to believe otherwise is a dangerous  attempt at entertaining today’s obligations and expectations tomorrow.

As I often do at this time of year, I plunged into deep introspection to examine my life up to this point as I neared my thirtieth year.  Considering the milestone I just witnessed, I found it appropriate to offer thirty thoughts, lessons and/or observations relevant to turning thirty.  Certainly you might have heard much of it before. Alas, “there is no new thing  under the sun.”  What you will find below are my humble thoughts.  Take them as they are.

  1. There has never proven a more opportune time to take your faith seriously and seek a genuine encounter with God.
  2. Make time to pray.
  3. Some say life is a journey, others will note it is a destination.  It is both, and you should not overemphasize the process (journey) or the appointed end (destination).
  4. When you find the woman fit to share the rest of your life with, marry her and love her the rest of your days.
  5. Conversely, “One can be too many if that one is the wrong one . . .”  While you should certainly share your days with the person fit to do so, there is no need, and often harm, in placing someone on your arm simply for the sake of doing so.
  6. Fatherhood is one of the foremost blessings in life, embrace it and cherish it.
  7. If fatherhood and marriage occur outside of the abovementioned order, do not let your children suffer because you might no longer get along with their other parent.
  8. Speaking of children, one of the best gifts a parent can give a child is their childhood.  While they all need discipline and a sense of responsibility, children need to be children.  It is part of the process of life.  As I have written previously, much can be said of the youthful innocence that adorned us as children.  For that very reason Jesus admonished his disciples to allow people to bring little children to him while he was teaching on the coasts of Judea beyond Jordan, saying, “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Quite simply, the Lord offered a reminder, among other things,  that there is something precious about childhood.  Allow your children to experience unadulterated.
  9. You will never know the have all the answers, there is no need to pretend otherwise.
  10. Some people never grow up, they merely get older.  Do not be one of them.  Likewise, turning thirty, or any age for that matter, will not beget maturity within you on its own, it is something you must develop, and part of that development is the realiztion that you must continue to grow.
  11. Similarly, high school, and to varying degrees undergrad, should not be the the “best time of your life.”
  12. By now we should have learned who our true friends are.  We may not see them as often as we like, but can depend on them when we need them.
  13. Today was tomorrow yesterday . . .”  Savor today, it is a precious gift from God.  We often lay plans for the days ahead, and in so doing, we often “neglect the gift of the present as we flirt on dates with destiny.”
  14. Stop procrastinating.  In the end, it hurts you the most.
  15. Similarly, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “It takes less time to do something right the first time than it does to explain why you did it wrong . . .” I am learning this to be true more and more by the day.
  16. Some times the adventure is at home.  Many men, particularly within our culture, strive to obtain status, material wealth and/or prestige, almost to a fault.  We are taught to do so.  Nevertheless,  many do so to the point that they neglect spending quality time with their families, hence the reference to a fault.  The immediate justification of their pursuits hinges on the idea that such exchanges in time are merely temporary sacrifices made to position the family for a more comfortable lifestyle in the not so distant future.  Consequently, the adventure of climbing the corporate ladder, though it may contain individual gratification, is often framed as an altruistic endeavor.  Nevertheless, if you have a family, they need you at home as much as they need your pay check, this may call for sacrifices at work.
  17. “It would seem the life we want most is the one we don’t live . . .”  Ambition is a beautiful, and it compels us to grow dissatisfied with stagnation.  Nonetheless, there is much to be said on being content with the blessings we do have, rather than always seeking the life society tells us to live.
  18. If you have not done so already, now is a great time to begin dressing like an adult.  Certainly there is no harm in being fashionable, but dressing like a teenager should have ended about a decade ago.
  19. Whether you frame it as disappointment, failure or setbacks of some form, there will come times when you fall short of your expectations (or the expectations of others). It is important to acknowledge these moments for what they are, learn from them and continue onward.
  20. Acknowledge your mistakes, and do not to repeat them.
  21. Much of what you worry about is not worth your time.  In other words, relax, smile more.  You probably do not do that enough.
  22. Similarly, much of what you worry about will probably never materialize.
  23. In the words of Rob Bell, saying “no” to one thing invariably means you have said or are saying “yes” to something else.  It is easier to prioritize upon remembering this.  It also makes it much easier to “let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay.”
  24. “We may get what we reached for, but we lose what we had/What do you have?”  We rarely find contentment in  “whatsoever state [we are], therewith . . .” Rather we continue to reach to add more to our lot, and in so doing, “We may get what we reached for, but we lose what we had.” When more is never enough we become “imprisoned in picket fences.” The prayer is that we will see through them long enough to understand we do not have to remain confined by them.
  25. Your parents were right; you should take time out some time and tell them.
  26. Do not forsake that you’re living “for the sake of making a living.”We let this beautiful life pass us by with our “meetings after meetings, appointments, agendas/We miss the beauty of this life when the point is its splendor.”  Most certainly our days are “few and full of trouble,” but we should enjoy the days we have, and fret about tomorrow if and when it comes.  Life is beautiful.
  27. It is not too late to dream, but dreams worth dreaming while awake require work that will cost much sleep.
  28. We unearth our legacy as we move at this reckless speed/Working our fingers to the bone, so it’s in death we rest in peace.”
  29. There is a difference between a job and a vocation.  Notwithstanding, we might find ourselves with unfulfilling jobs that support our vocation.
  30. Life is beautiful, death is peaceful–the transition is troublesome/And it troubles some, when at last they prevail and then they grasp/This life is a test we will fail until we pass–on . . .”

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