When I was a kid, I thought that I’d be married by 27 and have a kid by 30. I thought my thirties would look like the picture above. Apparently, I didn’t know much about life. And, of course, why would I? My world was built by my parents’ ideas, expectations, and fears. My job was to behave and regurgitate their ethics when asked my opinion. My morals were their morals. In other words, I was a good kid.
It is all a bit funny to me now, but the fact is that I was very close to pursing that life: The family picture with the kids actually looking where they were supposed to be and smiling on cue (amazing). I was once engaged, madly in love, and had full intentions of getting married and raising a family in suburbia. It didn’t work out and I lost myself for a while. I was like a planet that spun out of orbit and was thrown into the galaxies. There was no gravity pulling me in any direction and I had no gravity of my own to pull anything towards me. I lost love and was not in any condition to give love. I built my world on an idea that was fed to me by my Catholic Mexican upbringing, but nobody taught me how to handle losing it. All I knew of heartache was in oldie songs and Pedro Infante movies where the heart-broken hero is lost in a trail of tears and song trailing from bar to bar. I felt like losing love was the end of my world and I was doomed to a gory Shakespearean ending where I would either die naturally or take my own life as I whispered her name from my bleeding lips with my last breath.
Life didn’t end for this lonely planet. I shook off loneliness and embraced independence. The journey has been so much more intriguing than any other life I can imagine at this moment. Every day gets better and I paint my own conclusions with a hand under my influence alone. The future is what I wish it to be. At 30, I am old enough to have traveled, hurt, loved, lived, seen, smelled, done, and learned much about this whole living situation. At 30, I am young enough to enjoy it physically and emotionally with enough resources and wisdom to leave no stones unturned wherever I set foot. This is not where I thought I would be at this age, but only because I didn’t know that life could be this good.
It has not been easy. Like many people my age, I have seen and felt horrible things. I’ve been to combat and I’ve seen death, I’ve lost friends and family, and I’ve made regrettable mistakes in my life. I know it’s cool to say “live life with no regrets,” but I sure as shit have them. And, yes, I would change a few things if I could. Nonetheless, I am happy with the outcome. It just happened to be the perfect mix for my current bliss. I am sorry for the mistakes I’ve made and I made sure that I learned from them so that I may generate more love than indifference in my future travels. Nobody raised me to see the world how I see it now. I had to learn that myself through all I lived through.
When my 30th Birthday came last year, I saw it as a badge of honor. Some of my peers never made it this far and I must be mindful of this gift of life. I was sitting at church last night listening to a lady give her testament and it moved me. She spoke about her time at the hospital with her young daughter who was dying of cancer and her struggles to enter the hospital room because the news became worse each time she spoke with the doctor. It eventually became unbearable and she pleaded with God, “Fine, God, take her with you. If that is your will, then take her. I am grateful for the time you gave me with her.” And with those words, I was reminded that we can’t expect anything from life, but we can only be grateful for what we had even if it leaves us. That is why we practice impermanence. The lady’s child is doing much better now and she wanted to share her story, which I am glad that she did, because now I can share it with you.
My adventures will continue and I will become wiser with time. I love the line “I’ll be better when I’m older” from the song I’ll Be. It reflects an eternal optimism in a relationship. We will always get older without choice, but we can only become better if we choose to be. My name is Art, I am 30, and I am a better man than I have ever been in my life. Thanks for stopping by.