Grateful Sunday #17 & #18: Age & One More Year of Enlightenment

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Well, excuse my two-week hiatus for no apparent reason. Last week I actually was pretty busy making a final push to finish up the ‘biomes’ curriculum project I had been working on over the past month.  Other than that, it’s just been a relentless cycle of picking through job postings and filling & sending applications (on top of my regular daily/weekly meetings & appointments).

Today is a good day for me to express reflective gratitude – a birthday affords the opportunity for some searching personal insight.  One year ago from this day I would never have predicted this is where I would be, and nor am I now able to predict what life will be like one year from this moment.  But I have to believe that I am in a far better state of being now than I was then, and will be in even better shape in yet another year.

As it were, 23 has been a monumental year for me.  I saw great results from the hard work I put in to my first post-grad job.  I enjoyed living independently, and relished surviving paycheck to paycheck, relying on my resourceful thriftiness to get by.  I spent the entirety of the year sans driver’s license, observing the consequences of my actions last winter.  A combination of all these, and everything that came in between, propelled my personal life to something of a tipping point.  It was then, halfway through my 23rd year of life on this earth, that I made the decision to proactively better myself and kick my substance abuse problem.

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I think I will always remember age 23, for that reason.  Not only was I unable to drive for the past year, but it eventually became clear to me that in order to truly make a change, I would need to give up my job & move home, to focus on myself.  Thus, I spent my 23rd Christmas/New Year’s in rehab.  Which is not something I regret or feel bitter about, in any way; in fact the opposite.  Seeking treatment and counseling was a necessary step in getting my life in order, and that is not something that I wanted to conduct around what are ultimately just arbitrary days on the calendar.

This year, probably more than any of the past few, I feel a change in my age, personality, character, and essence of being.  I think my life has now found a definitive direction, in spite of all the turmoil and upheaval that have clouded the past years.  Looking back, I know that I was aimlessly drifting, unsure of my next move (and equally indifferent toward this uncertainty).  While I always took pride in the fact that I was never fearful or anxious over my future, I was also doing myself no favors  by taking little to no personal responsibility or accountability for myself.

Not to say that I have “mastered” adult life and totally have it “under control.”  No; that would indeed be a foolish, arrogant assessment of the situation.  The amount of things that I do not know outweighs the amount of things I know with certainty by a unfathomably huge sum.  And I’m at peace with this knowledge – because I also know that I have been equipped with the proper tools to successfully navigate those uncharted territories of life.

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One way I can feel my age is that I am finding this kind of humor more and more tolerable.  This is what I would refer to as “dad humor.”

In the sense of relative numeric value, I find age to be pretty arbitrary (much the same way I do days on the calendar).  I am a firm believer that age is much more defined by the manner through which one expresses his inner self.  I am older, because I have experienced more now than before, and I can use the knowledge inferred from these situations to garner maturity and personal growth (i.e., in my writing abilities and content).  But I have not aged, because I am still very much a kid at heart.

And I can’t lie, I did enjoy being woken up this morning by my mom and brother, who greeted me with birthday wishes and a small gift.  You’re never too old for the comforts of home.  Especially when home is such a loving and supportive place – much of my extended family gathered here this afternoon to celebrate with me by dining on fresh boiled clams, hot dogs, and Oreo ice cream cake (those guys at Friendly’s really know what they’re doing).  I missed out a lot when I was out, concerned with little but my own recreational entertainment.

Sobriety is probably the best gift I could have ever received, and it has in turn allowed me to appreciate all that I have around me in life a thousandfold more.  And for that, I am grateful.

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