On being 30; on being the conductor

Every day, I write at least 750 words on 750words.com. I’ve been doing this for a while now — well over four years, in fact — and just recently tied the ribbons on my 1533-day streak. (It’s a better way to view it than “I finally broke my streak.”) It’s something I take seriously, and it is not something I share.

I thought it would be fun to do something a little different today. Below are today’s words, minus two lines and my metadata, and sans proofreading:

Here goes.

Today I’m completing my 30th rotation around the sun on this weird little blue marble we call home. This has some interesting implications (e.g. contemplation of one’s unavoidable aging, the Saturn return aspect), but mostly it is one of the things I inexplicably love best: a totally arbitrary clean slate, fresh start, opportunity to redefine things.

This sort of clear, defined deadline has helped me do all kinds of things, although at this point I mostly remember the big ones (like when I decided to go vegan, or when I first tried a taste of vegetarianism).

Much of this gets lost in the shuffle, though. It’s easy, today, to say that I feel so fresh and renewed and lo, I no longer care about what other people think of me (and truly, I have been caring a whole lot less lately, which is something I’ve heard from a number of friends about 30). It’s harder to make that last a little longer. What about in a week? What about in a month? What about on my 31st birthday?

I have a really hard time facing things that I think are difficult, even if I logically understand that they’re not. For some reason, this seems easier at these arbitrary cut-offs.

I put off listening to three voicemails from my car insurance company for months, until I finally decided this morning that I didn’t want to start my 30s with their little notification bubble on my phone. So I listened to all of them, going as far back as last December, and they all said exactly what I thought they would, and now I have no notifications on my homescreen.

A little spring cleaning.

I got a bit of extra money a couple months ago, and realized I could pay down the last $1200 or so of my student loans (I dropped out of college, a bit to my surprise, 10 years ago this month. Partial advantage: I left with a bit over $5k in loans, which I’ve been paying off at $58 a month). But did I? Nope. Too daunting. Until today, when I realized I could look up the information and send them the amount to pay it all off. And off it went electronically, and I’m officially debt-free (well, as soon as the payment posts).

These things are not complicated, and they are not difficult, and what’s more, I am entirely capable of doing them independently. The extra push of a birthday just made it seem more urgent (and urgent things are what get done). And suddenly they’re off my plate.

But I can’t wait to do everything important once a year.

There are the important things, too, that I don’t even consider THIS often. I’ve been meaning to fork Buster’s /public directory on GitHub, because I have a long history of adopting habits or rituals he’s made (e.g. 750words, Health Month, 8:36) to great success. I worry, a bit, about not creating or starting things on my own. But one thing at a time.

Buster’s been doing yearly reviews for his birthday for nine years now, starting on his 30th (see https://medium.com/@buster/38-is-good-5e72aa44b857 for this year’s). This is especially interesting to me because we share a birthday, so the reminder that I could also do this thing on this one magic day usually hits about a day too late. Even today, I’m supposed to be heading out to meet friends to celebrate a little. And instead I’m writing up things here as well.

So I’m issuing a challenge to myself: set down a few big things today, flesh them out over the next week, and consider that to be good enough for this first crack.

This year’s theme: actually, I’m not quite sure. I made myself a list and I’ve been throwing ideas on it today.

I mean, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how we (okay, I) accomplish things. Ruminating a lot on the general metaphor of gathering steam, like a locomotive, and looking like you’re doing nothing for quite some time until finally, you push away from the station, and you’re on your way.

I want to be my own conductor this year, and this decade (well, and this life, but I have to start somewhere).

I want to realize that I’m on my own train, and I’m the one fueling it.

If I don’t fuel it, it won’t go.

And if someone or something keeps trying to put out my fire, I need to find ways to block that or put it out.

This is a pretty fine metaphor. (I’ve been thinking about trains a lot lately.)

So okay. The theme for 30? “Be the conductor.”

I think.

And then I’ll work on my /public repository this week. And I will start putting a little more structure into how I conceive of myself (I hope), and how I create my own storyline.