Today is my birthday. I’m 34 years old. That’s weird. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I think 34 is old, it’s just strange that I’m there. I feel young. I feel spry. I feel like I’m running up on my peak years but I’m not there yet. On the other hand I watched Big Trouble in Little China the other day because I hadn’t seen it since I was a kid. Out of curiosity I checked the year of release. 1986. Twenty-six years ago. I have roommates younger than that. See what I mean? Weird.
This time last year, I was coming off an epic two-month trip around South East Asia. I had just moved into a new house and started working for a new school. I was turning 33. I had very loose plans for the year. I wanted to take on a big writing project, travel whenever possible, make a better effort to learn Thai and maybe even get myself a cute little Thai girlfriend.
I did pretty well. I wrote a novel, published two short stories and climbed to the Base Camp of Mount Everest. I spent New Year’s in Thailand with friends from home, I had great weekends away and great times in Surat. On the flip-side my Thai got worse and I never did meet that cute little Thai girl. Coincidence?
This year’s plans are a lot more specific. I want to successfully transition from Asia to Europe. I want to publish my first novel and write my second. I want to publish another short story (preferably several). I want to start making money doing freelance writing. I want to go to Munich for Oktoberfest, Vienna for Christmas, Rome in the spring and Venice on the way back up. And as insane as this sounds I want to do all that while continuing to foster my freedom of time, easy-going lifestyle.
The biggest difference between 24 year old me and 34 year old me is that I no longer glance ahead to the future and think, Pfft, I’ve got time. I look hard at the closest bit; twelve-months, eighteen at most and think: What do I want to accomplish? Where do I want to travel? How can I take what I’ve got and make it better?
I have spent the last several years actively trying to live as relaxed and carefree as possible and ironically that has led to the most productive years of my life. I was never good at career ambition, but ambition toward the fun stuff; chasing dreams, traveling, doing less to do more—that I seem to understand. Good old American tenacity taken abroad and unleashed on a whole world full of Yeah, maybe someday’s.
44 year old me may look back at the words of 34 year old me and think; Blowhard. Child. He will have the gift of hindsight and the right to judge. Here in the moment I can look forward 364 and no farther. Beyond that is unknowable.
I am thirty-four years old. Here goes nothin.