I turn 39 next week. Do you know why that’s crazy? That’s crazy because I feel NOT A BIT different than when I was in my early 20s. I’m still me, looking out the same two eyeballs, and I’m fairly convinced that this age business is the best trick of the matrix.
Sure, becoming an adult hopefully comes with emotional, mental, and spiritual growth. We get jobs and places to live and cars and we have friendships and intimate relationships…and for some of us, shit gets serious. We give tremendous meaning to things like marriage and acquiring possessions and climbing the corporate ladder/making enough money to support our basic needs. We get buried under the tedium of shoulds and have tos.
I’ve learned from observing myself that if I’m not vigilantly choosing joy, my spirit can lose its light and life can become dull and tedious.
It’s often at the very times when things are lifeless and dull that a little miracle happens and everything gets bright again. Like last night. I was at the bar supporting the re-election of a smart and motivated city councilwoman when a beautiful woman came over and asked if anyone would like to play pool. My immediate inclination was to say “No” but then time stopped for a second (like is does when I need to become aware of something important) and I realized that the better choice was to say, “Yes…yes, I would love to play pool.” And it’s those little moments of saying yes that can change everything.
I ended up having an outrageously fun evening of being drawn into the fold of three flight attendants who were laying over in Denver for the night. One from Chicago, one from Dallas/Fort Worth, and one from Puerto Rico–they barely knew each other, yet there was a camaraderie that was undeniable. And you know what it reminded me of? Being a kid. You can set two kids down near each other or put them on the same jungle gym and in no time they will become friends. When are adults going to get over themselves and realize that they are still those same kids who could literally become friends with ANY OTHER KID?
Last night, having three instantaneous new playmates on the adult playground (aka bar) reminded me how fun life really is. We spend so much of childhood imitating our parents and pretending to be adults–dreaming of having a house and a car and a job and someone to smooch and welcome home at the end of the day. And then we finally have all those things…and they seem to come at the expense of being able to appreciate them. They come with the stress of paying for everything, maintaining everything, checking off long lists of to-dos…and the joy gets sucked up into our overpriced Dyson vacuum cleaners.
I remember as a kid wanting so badly to be able to drive a car. I acted out the shifting of the gears and I made noises that mimicked the sound of a car. Then as an adult, driving lost its glow a bit and I started to complain about traffic and potholes. But in another instance of the small miracles that can change everything, one afternoon I experienced a time-stopping moment with my friend Michelle. We had been at a function at her daughter’s school and we were driving separately to a coffee shop afterward.
When I pulled into the parking spot beside Michelle’s car (somewhat dramatically because I was being silly) and waved over to her, I was overcome with pure joy as I realized that my dream had come true! Michelle and I were grown ups, each driving a car, about to enjoy the adult treat of coffee that we would purchase with money we earned. It’s hard to describe how profound this moment was for me. It was like my adult reality folded onto my child reality and I was able to see my adult self through the eyes of the little Erin who yearned so badly to be able to drive a real car and pull it into a parking space next to my bestie (like all the times I’d played out that scenario on my Big Wheel).
So here’s to the grown-up kids of the world and to the small miracles, the glitches in the matrix, that incite joy and gratitude and reignite soul lights. And here’s to friends…new and old…because, really, what would life be without them?