A Part of the Equation

Lately, I’ve been questioning what’s expected of me at thirty-eight. What’s the norm for someone at my age? I honestly couldn’t tell you. I know what it’s like to be me, but is it because of my age or who I am?

As a kid, I recall attending my twenty-eight-year-old uncle getting married. It made an impression on me because there was an argument instigated by religion also, I remember thinking to myself, that must be the standard age for marriage. I had over a decade to go and it seemed so far away.

Twenty years later, I’m just a man sitting in a cafe, typing away, posting an entry on his sad little blog.

I believe our lives are all merely consequences of successful childbirth, with no inherent goals or objectives. If you want your life to have meaning, then you need to give it meaning. Life is your journey from the cradle to the grave.

You didn’t choose why, how, where, and when you were born, so no point fretting about that. You can’t choose your exit conditions either (to a certain extent, I’m aware of suicide but even those attempts can fail). Everything else in between is fair game. 

How you live it, and what you do during your time on this earth is up to you. Do you want to find the cure for cancer? Make that your goal. Do you want to tuck in your collared polos, wear socks with sandals, and strap a fanny pack across your chest? You can also make that your goal.

Every time I stop to think about how far I’ve come in life, I feel like I haven’t changed much. In my mind, I don’t feel too different from George a decade ago. It’s probably more obvious to the people around me.

My goals (or lack thereof) in life haven’t changed. Simply knowing that I don’t have to think about whether there’s food on the table or that I have a place to come home to is good enough. I don’t need much else in my life but ‘much’ is relative. Through the homeless’ eyes, I’m living the dream.

I’m not saying that the benchmark for living a good life is outdoing the homeless, but there’s nothing else I feel the need to accomplish. There are many things that I would like or want to have, but I can live without them.

The expectation for individuals to meet societal milestones based on age is arbitrary and often unrealistic. These pressures only serve to breed unhappiness. There’s no inherent obligation for anyone to adhere to these standards.

The only time I have to live up to or exceed expectations is at work. Because I’m contractually bound and a steady paycheck allows me to continue living happily.

Maybe because I am privileged enough, I can say these kinds of things. I was born and raised to thrive in an environment hospitable to the kind of person I am. But I’m doing what anybody in my situation would be doing – embracing it.

You know those uncles you see walking around malls with white-framed spectacles, funky haircuts, and loud clothing? The first thing that usually comes to mind is, why is that old person trying to be trendy? As someone who’s at that age, I’ve come to understand why. 

They don’t care about what other people think and I’ve started to relate. As long as my nipples aren’t showing and I’m comfortable, I’m good to go. We old folks are just wearing what we feel like wearing.

Also, what are thirty-eight-year-olds supposed to wear? Is there a handbook out there that I’m missing? Is someone going to tell me how to dress my age? Will I wake up one day with the desire to follow the universal uncle dress code? I think the uncle dress code is to not give a shit.

I still enjoy the same types of cartoons, games, movies, music, shows, books, comics, humor – that I started consuming over a decade ago and I don’t see that changing. What are old people supposed to like? News on TV, oldies, and all that shit we called boring when we were kids?

Am I suddenly supposed to like old people things? What are old people things? I’m old and I like pan mee and coffee. Does that make them old people food? Like some alternate-universe Midas, does everything I touch become old people things?

It dawned on me as I wrote this blog post that there’s no guidebook for being thirty-eight. I am who I am not solely because of my age but in spite of it. And as adults, some of us are in the same boat, figuring things out as we go.

Goals and dreams give life purpose, but they should be self-assigned. Do we need to aim for the stars? Perhaps sometimes, having our feet firmly on the ground is enough.