Thirty-fiveWritten by Shannon Szyperski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Harry Connick, Jr. released albums at certain milestone ages, naming them after the year of his life he was attempting to freeze in time through his music. As each of my adult milestone birthdays has approached, I have thought about doing such a thing but have always let the opportunity pass me by. Unlike childhood birthdays, adult birthdays give us the opportunity to not only anticipate all that is yet to come but also to appreciate all that has come before. The greatest gift we receive each year as we pass “Go” is being able to take pause to reflect on the wisdom we’ve gained from where we’ve already been.
However, with each passing year the list of what I think I know seems to be dwindling. If only I had started my list at sixteen when I still had the whole world figured out. At thirty-five, this is what I have left:
1. Honesty is the best policy. My grandmother passed on the notion that if you always tell what you know to be the truth, you won’t have to remember what you said. I find it is also quite handy in establishing trust.
2. No one is above me and no one is beneath me. Foregoing any feelings of superiority and/or intimidation when interacting with the world at large continually opens up doors around every corner. I have amassed a wonderfully eclectic group of friends and life experiences under this principle and can’t help but think that popularizing it would make the world a better place.
3. Nudity and swearing aren’t quite the potential dreadfulness I was led to believe. After having my uterus pried open in front of a room full of strangers on three occasions, I’ve lost some esteem for the idea of body modesty. With few exceptions, we all have the same parts, so it seems silly to put such emphasis on the relatively small variances that occur from one person to the next. I also wonder if we didn’t place such a taboo on words like the “F” one that shall not be named that certain individuals wouldn’t feel the need to insert it after every other syllable as if they were Smurfs. I take much greater exception to “idiot,” “stupid,” and, frankly, even “ignorant,” which is really just the polite form of “idiot.”
4. As a society we waste a whole lot of time arguing about things that could be solved by recognizing simple semantics. As an example, some people would never be caught meditating, yet live by the power of prayer and vice versa. People who lambaste the traditionally religious among us create their own religion based on disagreement and disdain. Realizing how similarly we all live rather than nitpicking at the subtle differences would do wonders for getting along.
5. Dr. Seuss was right – life’s a great balancing act. We all have our weaknesses and our vices and keeping them in check is often the secret to a happy, healthy life. Many of the world’s ills could be cured with a daily dose of moderation.
6. I have begun to question whether knowledge is really power. After being bombarded my whole life with the idea that an open and educated mind is the only way to go, living with an educated mind is much less comfortable an experience than I had anticipated. The learned ability to absorb, compare, analyze and question the validity of vast amounts of information is anxiety-producing and exhausting. I’m not giving up on the idea entirely, but perhaps ignorance really is bliss.
7. Trying to mentally divide the world into the “haves” and the “have-nots” is a futile and fruitless mission. We are all “haves” in some ways and “have-nots” in others. Material valuables in life are by no means the only ones worth counting up at the end of the day. If I had to choose, I’d personally much prefer to be a “have” in terms of the intangible and incalculable things in life than anything that can be given a price tag.
8. Birthdays are a time to celebrate the fact that you made it another round no matter how many times you’ve done it before. The fear of wrinkles and gray hairs and pining for youth gone by have ruled our culture for too long. Returning to an appreciation for the stability and the wisdom and the substance that comes with growing older is in desperate order. Growing up can be an interesting, insightful and enjoyable time if we let it.
Shannon and her husband Michael are raising three children in Sylvania. E-mail her at email@example.com.