A year ago I crossed the thirty-year mark with excitement and a little bit of apprehension. Cresting a new decade, especially the one that follows your twenties, brings with it a certain amount of uncertainty and scrutiny. What am I doing with my life?
I went skydiving. I changed careers. I made some personal decisions about where I was headed and what was important. Now, exactly a year later, I’m celebrating another new year of life, but it’s not with the same amount of existential angst I felt a year ago.
There is something really helpful about these checkpoints, like New Year’s Day and your birthday. It’s a forced reflection, reckoning, evaluation. What are my goals? Who am I becoming? And so on.
Today, as I stare down at another 365 days, I want to begin like I try to begin most days, with gratitude. It’s so easy to get swept into the motion of the day-to-day without pausing to acknowledge, despite setbacks and bad circumstances, there is always something wonderful to appreciate. And for as long as there is breath in my lungs, there is something worth working towards.
Gratitude and goals—I firmly believe these two things drive most of our lives, and with either it’s easy to succumb to the weight of living, to give in to the negative, to be a “wandering generality” instead of a “meaningful specific.”
I wish that I could say I greet every day with enthusiasm, with a winner’s mindset and a willingness to succeed, but that’s not always the case. However, even on the worst days, there is still the conviction that the best lives are the ones that submit to what some call the pain of discipline instead of having to live with the pain of regret.
As I wake up to age thirty-one, I admit I don’t have it all figured out, I often fail and give in to the path of least resistance, but there is a fire inside of me that still burns to make a lasting difference in this world, however brief my days on this earth may be in light of all of time.
So I’ll end with a snippet from a poem I deeply enjoy:
“Do not go gentle into that good night. Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”