As I write this, I’m turning thirty. People say this is a milestone. People write long, lighthearted (peppered with seriousness) posts about their sombre experiences of turning thirty. Movies have been made about it. Listicles of 30 things to do, to not do, to learn, to unlearn, when/before/after turning thirty are published every day. (this is not a listicle)
In fact, I’ve been turning thirty all of this past year, and by extension, all my life. That’s the thing that people (including me) forget. When they say that age is just a number, they also mean that age is a given. It will happen. As Mark Twain said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” I don’t mind.
I’m often said to be the youngest but one in my cousins (and their spouses). The one who’s younger… Well, she’s more mature than me in many ways. So as I turn thirty, I see the entire extended family maturing. It’s an interesting thing to watch, from where I sit.
It is also very satisfying to know that I am as normal as others. As a kid, I’m sure everyone has spun stories about their lives. Grand tales of adventure or playing the most important character in other people’s lives. It’s turning out that we’re all important characters, but in our own lives. I see the arc that has brought me here and the arc going forward, and it is satisfying to see the same dips and rises as I’ve seen and read other people have. Knowing that one’s life in extraordinarily normal removes a lot of pressure.
I love learning things. It’s not always easy, but it’s important. From my parents, I learnt that there’s no age to stop learning. I believe that’s the most important lesson they’ve taught me.
When I was younger, I used to abhor exercising. I used to think that if I stress out my brain, I’ll somehow get dumber, or lose my creative streak. I lost it for a few years by not exercising it. From my wife, I’ve learnt that exercising is good. It helps blood flow to the brain and gives it new life. Ideas flow faster, they form more easily, and I am able to push myself more to write.
I’ve always peered in at the world of critical thinking. I believe I’m a foreigner to it. I’d love to be able to do it, but till I can wrap my head around the concepts of critical thinking, I enjoy seeing it happen whenever my brother goes about his work. This is perhaps something I’d like to pick up from him someday (this decade?) .
I love learning things from people, as you’ve seen above. There’s a dear friend from whom I’ve learnt some very important things. These are small things, such as the correct etiquette while climbing a mountain, and how to correctly crush plastic bottles before disposing them off. All learning, no matter how big or small, is important.
This is not an awards night. I’m not thanking everyone I know for all they’ve taught me. That would make this a listicle.
But I’ll say one last thing. A dear friend recently said that there’s no correct age for doing things you want to do. Society may say that one is too young or too old to do something. It is up to us to ignore it and go ahead and do it anyway. It is not a contract between you and society, but a decision between you and a choice few others whose voice matters in such decisions. Well, this is a decision between me and my fate, and I’ve decided that this is the right time for me to turn thirty.
@nitinkhanna Wonderful piece and a wonderful outlook. I won’t sully it with a typical felicitation as it is way beyond that.
@colinwalker aha, thank you for your kind words! ?
@nitinkhanna A beautiful reflection for this day. Welcome to thirty.
@vasta heh thanks! Seems to be a nice decade ?
@nitinkhanna Great piece. I’ve been thinking a lot about ageism lately. There are so many preconceptions and prejudices, in both directions. A classic from my youth: “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” ???
@macgenie and how did that work out? Honestly, I only ever heard that in American movies and TV. It was a funky thing to hear… like, why would you not trust them? They’re elders after all.
@nitinkhanna @macgenie i think the fact that they were elders is why? Feels like a hippie/post-hippie kinda thing, though I bet it hit the tech world as well.
I turned 40 last month and it felt kinda big in a less happy way than 30 did. ¯(ツ)/¯ embracing it now though! ?
@jw Turned 42 at the start of this year and know what you mean. The numbers themslves become relative after a while and the focus becomes “what do I want to do now independent of what age I am?”.
@jw we’re not meant to breeze through life, but hitting decade starters shouldn’t be any reason to not enjoy a birthday ?
@nitinkhanna Because the elders were sending the youngers to war in Vietnam, and couldn’t explain why. (Not that I’m old enough to remember, or anything…)
@JoeHoffman Oh yeah… I recently saw The Post. Sad time for America, that.