I ended up taking off last week for Thanksgiving at the request of my wife. It was a huge blessing to enjoy a week without the pressure to have something to offer or to meet a deadline, so I wanted to say thank you for letting me put the ball down last week.
I headed into this week with gusto to get back to the plan, and have yet again found myself derailed by a few things, but the foremost of these is the reality of my 30th birthday.
Today is my last day as a twenty-something. Tomorrow, November 28th, 2018 is my 30th birthday. Now, at this point some of you are already thinking
“30! What’s he worried about? He’s still so young!”
And you’re right. I have what is hopefully the majority of my life still in front of me.
Others of you are thinking,
“30! Oh my gosh, he’s an old man!”
And you’re right. As ridiculous as it may seem to older generations, we millennials still treat our 20s like it’s the last season of our childhood.
In many ways it is.
We are still wondering and searching for our identity, still hoping to discover what kind of difference we will make in the world, and yearning to know who will be traveling the path alongside us. Even at the age of 29, we find ourselves wandering from one thing to the next looking for adventure and purpose…much like a child at play.
In many ways, this is the end of my childhood. For some reason, the number 30 just feels like it’s time to finally “grow up” in some areas of my life that need maturing.
However, as fun and exciting as spring and summer are, I always find myself most looking forward to fall and winter, because they have a beauty about them that spring and summer can never quite touch.
I’m not saying I’m entering the fall of my life…I think I still have quite a few years of summer left. But it does feel like it’s closer. This has led me to do quite a lot of reflecting on my life so far.
I wanted to do so much before 30.
I wanted to be married by 20
I got married at 23
I wanted to start having kids by 26
They are still not on the visible horizon…yet.
I wanted to travel the world helping people through an organization like Invisible Children or World Vision.
I thought I would be the most experienced world traveler out of all my connections, living in dozens of different countries, experiencing thousands of life-changing sights and people.
Instead, I still live in flat, brown Lubbock, Texas.
I thought I’d be an expert–or at least a respected leader–in my field of work.
To this day the only work I may even qualify as “experienced” is in student ministry…a field I said I would never go in to.
Basically, I thought my life would be entirely different at this point. And sometimes that makes me a little sad and discouraged. Sometimes it feels like I have given up on who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do in life.
Then a phrase came to mind one day:
“You can’t complain about the life you don’t have
you can only choose to live the life you do have”
I can fret, stress, regret, and even mourn the life I always envisioned, the one that never came to pass, or I can look with honest, loving eyes at the life I have been allowed to live.
One option leaves me looking back with sadness and longing.
The other gives me peace, acceptance, and the will to press forward to the future.
All that being said, once I decided to reflect on the life I HAVE had so far, I saw some pretty amazing things. Here is a list as comprehensive as I can manage of all the things I have gotten to do and experience in my first 30 years. Are you ready? Here we go…
Places I’ve been:
India: Bengaluru, Mumbai, Chennai
Morocco: Tangier, Casablanca, Marrakech, Merzouga, Rabat, Meknes, Fes, Agadir, Ouarzazate, Ifrane
Spain: Gibralter, Marbella, Madrid, Barcelona, Rhonda, Malaga
U.S. Virgin Islands: Saint Thomas, Saint John, Saint Croix
Harry Potter World
Louisville Slugger factory
St. Louis Arch
Sun Studios in Memphis (where Elvis got started)
25 different U.S. States and Washington D.C.
NUMEROUS major U.S. Cities like:
Atlanta, Cincinnati, Nashville, Memphis, Louisville, Seattle, San Diego, Los Angeles, Malibu, Phoenix, Orlando, Kansas City, St. Louis, New York, Denver, Houston, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, El Paso, Albuquerque, and New Orleans
Weird Things I’ve eaten
- Camel heart
- Sheep Brains
- Monkey Brains
- Cow intestines
- Cow testicles
- Snails (escargot sounds more dignified)
- And I’m sure some others that I may have chosen to forget.
Things I’ve Done
- Snorkeled in the Virgin Islands
- Scuba dived
- Tried over 500 different beers (over 9 years…not all at once of course)
- Skydive through a cloud
- Landed a (much bigger than I expected) jump on a snowboard
- Gone to Austin City Limits music festival
- The human swing at Six Flags Over Texas
- Surfed in Hawaii
- Stand up paddle board in Hawaii
- Helicopter Tour of Hawaii
- Hiked to a cliff overlooking a Hawaiian shoreline
- Attended a professional baseball game
- Rushed the field after the greatest college football game of the decade (TTU vs UT 2008)
- Seen the Arizona and Pearl Harbor
- Gone to the San Diego Zoo
- Written and published a book
- Been homeless for a week
- Performed, hosted, and won poetry slams
- Drove across the country with two friends, one tiny car, and zero plans
- Ridden a camel and camped in the Sahara Desert
- Studied abroad in Morocco for a semester
- “Learned” Spanish and Arabic
- Haggled in Arabic in a Moroccan Medina
- Argued with a Spanish cab driver…in Spanish
- Taken a 2-hour bus to a tiny town in a foreign country by myself
- Shaved my head
- Had dreadlocks
- Gone cliff diving
- Brewed and bottled my own beer
- Launched a blog
- Booked professional speaking gigs
- Directed a summer camp I grew up going to
- Started a business
- “Learned” to play the cello
- Backpacked through the famous Dades Gorge in Morocco
- Got Married
- Quit a good job
- Quit a bad job
- Started a podcast
- Been interviewed on television and radio
- Was the mayor of Raiderville corralling and organizing over 3000 college students
- Taken a painting class
- Sat for a painting class (fully clothed!)
- Done a Cement Mixer shot (it’s gross)
- Lived overseas
- Stayed at the most remote monastery in the western hemisphere
- Helped people (a couple, dozens, or maybe hundreds…I don’t know) experience God and love
All this to say, with a little perspective and gratitude I realize that I have lived a pretty damn full life, and not even half of the way through it (hopefully).
Some will say
“That is a lot of things. I haven’t done any of those things. Why should I be grateful for my life and hopeful for the future.”
Because even someone that has done a million things feels like it’s not enough.
At 30 there are still many parts of me that feel like a failure, a quitter, or a dud. Until eventually someone or something reminds me that doing things, checking off a bucket list, or having something to show for your life does not make it richer.
Enjoying the moments you do have, living the life you HAVE been given is your only option for actual peace and genuine gratitude. It’s also the only hope you have for moving forward.
So here’s to everyone who has been a part of the last 30 years of my life. Big or small, you helped make it possible, and it’s been a true joy.
And look out because I may have 60 more!