February 4, 2005

I Turn 24 Today

I remember when I was twelve, and now I've gone for two dozen. It was Mickey Mantle who said, "If I knew I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself." Thankfully, that doesn't so much apply to me yet, and I've taken pretty good care of myself; at least as good care as you can take while wrestling for half of my 24 years. The body still works, even if it's not quite the specimen it once was (and oh, was it ever), and the mind is sharp as ever. I understand more stuff about more stuff than I ever have. I can speak halfway intelligently about the stock market, Social Security reform, and tax preparation, yet I still can explain the infield fly rule, zone blitz, and icing (both hockey and butter cream).

Some people decide to get depressed about growing a year older, and for some, I suppose I can understand it. Personally, I think I'm too young to get all worked up about clicking over from 23 to 24. Is there really a difference, in the narrative that is my life, whether I look back in 50 years and see some event that happened at 23 or 24? Not really, I'd argue. The main difference between last year and the previous 10 is that it was the first year of my life since I was in fifth grade that I went from birthday to birthday without stepping onto a wrestling mat and striving to have my hand raised at the end of it. Now that I've hit this milestone, I've finally tipped the scale back to where the number of years I haven't wrestled again eclipses the number that I have. I supposed I mean years that I've competed, as I don't plan to ever stop wrestling, at least as long as my body can handle it. I knew a man in high school named Lored, and he still wrestled with the high school guys at age 50. I'm not sure I aspire to that, but I plan to stay involved in some way.

Often, it can be tempting to look back at our lives, especially at milestones such as this, and wish that something had gone differently, or wished you could go back 1, 5, or more years and talk to your former self to let him know what he should avoid, and where he might avoid making the mistakes you made. This going back might help you avoid some pain, but it would also invariably affect your present life. I can look back at perhaps dozens of times where I wish I'd made a different choice, but I can look back at many of those times and realize how different my life would look right now if I'd made this decision or that decision. I might not have met people I call my dearest friends, or maybe I'd have missed some other opportunity. Sure, I can look at my life now and wish certain things were different, but it's harder to pinpoint what had to have been different in order to cause those changes. The events in my life are not interchangeable parts. It's all tied together like the old Choose Your Own Adventure books. In those, you can go back a lot of choices, but any change you make precludes you from making the choices that come after the first one. It's the same way in life, except you can't go back, but you can think about it and realize that no one event put you where you are and surrounded you with the people you associate with.

I guess that's what I'll take from this birthday....a realization that it took a unique series of events to put each of us where we are today, and that my character is a result of those events. I wouldn't be the same person if any of them had happened differently. I guess that's what I'll leave you with on my birthday. We'll see what I have to say next year when I crack a quarter century. Now 25...25 is old.


Jimmy said...

It's funny you relate to what is called the Grandfather Paradox (sometimes it's the Grandmother Paradox, but that's neither here nor there). Let's say you could could go back in time and kill your grandfather before he had children. The problem then becomes, since your grandfather is dead, you have parents and ergo, you don't exist. Whoops! How were you then able to kill your grandfather if you don't exist? So you don't go back in time and your grandfather lives. Hey, he lives, now you exist! So now you go back and kill him. Do you see where this is leading to? A post so long, even you couldn't write it. If you went back and clued yourself in to you're own future mistakes, you wouldn't make thosee mistakes and wouldn't be able to warn yourself, thus causing you to make those mistakes...I'm not making a point or anything here, just babling on.

And by the way birthday boy, have you figured out the whole offsides yet in hockey? Happy Birthday!

Andy said...

Haven't you seen Back to the Future? That's the authority on time travel in my book.

As for hockey, it's not that I don't understand offsides, it's that I've decided video game hockey is way more fun without it.

Anonymous said...

My Times are in His Hands
(Psalm 31:15(

I am not trapped in the grip of blind forces

I am not tossed about on the ocean of chance

I am being trained in the school of God's Providence

Prosperity should not be the occasion of pride

Uncertainty should not be the occasion of panic

Adversity should not be the occasion of self pity

There is a responsibility to be faced

There is a humility to be fostered

There is security to be found