Less than one month until my 38th birthday. So close to 40. Still “young” but yet so old.
The picture above was taken on my 31st birthday. I don’t remember it honestly. 31 is not a milestone. Neither is 38. But every year is an accomplishment of sorts I suppose.
I don’t know what the 31 year old me would think of the current me. He’d probably chastise me for some things and maybe be impressed with a few other things. He would have much more to tell me than I him. I would keep my mouth shut mostly. He doesn’t need that kind of anxiety looming over him.
It’s incredible how blurry the past is. I remember bits and pieces out of my memory, but so much is based on photographs. And I almost seem to remember feelings more than events. They are almost always negative. I’m honestly not sure I remember “happy”.
That’s not to say it’s all been miserable. But “happy” is elusive. At 31 I was dealing with money struggles, a depressed wife, four children, a messy house, and the potential of starting a new career. Stress was ever at my door. It wasn’t miserable, but it was one long day to day struggle just to make it to the next. It was life, just average.
From other photos around that time I can guess I liked a good beer, my pipe (obviously), and I was still headlong into painting. I had pleasures. But happiness isn’t pleasures per se, it’s a state of mind.
Now that I am nearing 38 my life is very much the same yet very much different. Unfortunately, “happy” is still hiding somewhere under a rock. Most days I’m just exhausted. I have learned not to stress too much about the nonsense, but every day is a battle with my nerves ending in a stalemate.
So much of that battle is in my head, warrior brain cells are conscripted out of nothing to go fight against imaginary monsters. Thinking thinking thinking… That will solve all the problems. Nope. You’re chasing a ghost, dear synapses.
Time has taught me to stop worrying out loud. It has taught me to find solutions, not just thoughts. Physical, tangible problems *can* be dealt with. It’s the spiritual, metaphysical, and emotional challenges that have turned my beard grey. It is the time spent wondering about the state of my soul, my happiness, my love, my fears, my self-worth, etc that has wrinkled my face and worn down my bones and tone of voice.
I’m quieter and a bit less nimble now than I was at 31. But I’d like to think I’m wiser too.
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