Ezy Reading: Damn... I'm Thirty!

Evan Kanarakis

I turned thirty on the 23rd of May which I guess is something of a landmark age, right up there with turning eighteen, celebrating a twenty-first birthday, and getting to sixty.

Thirty is apparently a pretty serious age, though. Or so I hear.

I mean sure, at eighteen or twenty-one (depending upon where you live), you can legally vote, be drafted into the army, and are now officially walking into adulthood, taking on all the responsibilities that come with that. At sixty, you're likely happy to have just made it that far unscathed, and now potentially have the joys of the third mortgage, bedpans and the inevitable 'Cats in the Cradle' syndrome to look forward to from your spoiled kids.

But then again, turning eighteen or twenty-one is often for many a chance to finally cut loose and have some fun; enjoy a drink, at last figure out how to get laid (and, for once, do it properly), and escape the rigid limits of a parental roof. You're young, your whole life is ahead of you, and there's just about nothing to fear. In the same vein, while at the age of sixty you might well have a few health and other issues to be cautious about, you can rest happily in the fact that years of toil in the workforce are finally 'or soon will be' at an end. The children left the roost long ago, which means there's time for husband and wife to enjoy time together they've probably not shared since their late twenties. It's a chance to kick back, relax, and let someone else pick up the slack because hey, you've earned it. It's time to head for warmer climates, bad fishing-hats and weird Hawaiian shirts.

But thirty is a little more problematic. While you're still certainly young, still largely in the earlier stages of a career and, perhaps, a serious, committed relationship, the levels of expectation just seem to be that much higher than at other landmark ages. Judging by at least some of the comments I received this past week or two regarding my birthday, our twenties were apparently a mere trial period in adulthood with drunken missteps only occasionally interrupted by the purchase of a suit, drawing up a curriculum vitae, and dabbling ignorantly into chatter about buying shares and getting a home loan. At thirty, people start getting promoted into more important jobs. They start taking on the burdens of major debt. Holy cow, they not only start really getting into the whole marriage thing, but they start dropping babies like there's no tomorrow! That means serious responsibilities.

So what gives? Now I'm thirty is it finally time to pack up the PS2, say farewell to beers, basketballs and sleeping in? Am I required to now take on a more sombre, measured demeanour and stop screaming madly at the television screen for the Wallaby back-line to pass the freaking ball? Must I now enter every relationship and job interview with a serious, long'view outlook? Should every paycheck be carefully set-aside with thoughts of buying that three-bedroom condo on the lower north shore?

For crying out loud, is this the end of fun?

Okay, calm down, because I don't think we're in trouble just yet...

First up, thirty isn't a truly landmark age for everyone' many have chosen (or been forced into) growing up well prior to anyone tapping them on the shoulder and offering "Um, you're thirty now, perhaps you should act your age". It also wasn't that long ago that careers, marriages and kids were buzzing along in full gear years before a thirtieth birthday arrived.

Adding to this, nowadays society is changing so rapidly that some folks are calling thirty 'the new twenty'. We're working longer, marrying later and life expectancies in the Western world are constantly rising. As a result, for some there's not as much urgency to dive in and 'get adult life started'.

We've also all heard the cliché 'you're only as old as you feel', and seeing as I seem to think of myself as floating somewhere in the ether between the age of twenty-two and twenty-seven 'and certainly not at age thirty' I guess it's true.

The fact is, I was rather oblivious of whatever 'turning thirty' was supposed to mean for me until other folks decided to bring it to my attention. Only a true fool would misspend a life ignorantly unaware or disinterested in making sure they lived a meaningful, worthwhile existence. I'm sure, perhaps sooner than I'm even expecting, many of these allegedly 'adult' responsibilities and concerns will soon rise into prominence on my horizon. But I'd label a fool just as easily upon anyone unwilling to try and retain some degree of that exuberance, free-spiritedness and blissful 'if occasional' misadventure in their day-to-day lives. I'm no philosopher or writer of greeting card wisdom but it seems we only get one decent run on the giant merry-go-round, and if I really have just turned thirty then I can assure you the years genuinely fly by.

And I'd take one memory of joyful recklessness, spontaneity and enthusiasm over those of worried, cautious and pre'planned living any day. How could you not?

So screw thirty. I've got bigger things to worry about, and with a little luck things will all fall happily into place anyway 'with only the slightest of 'mature', 'measured' guidance to help things along.

I booked a ticket a month or so back to soon fly to Bangor, Maine in the northeastern corner of the United States and get away for a year of committed, distraction free writing. I figured, at thirty, and with writing so important in my life, it was something I ought to finally do. I'd hate to look back in ten years and discover I'd never adequately chased my dreams. But rest assured, sound judgement and careful consideration of my future aside, I've also already checked out the availability of Celtics tickets, Pearl Jam concerts and good local pubs in New England.

There's too much real living to do in between those gaps of getting on with life.

Ezy Reading is out every Monday.

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