COLUMN: On being alive for three decades

As a child, when I pictured myself as a grown man I saw a mohawked half-cyborg wearing punk-style ripped jeans.

As a child

Because I was raised in a Christian family, I’ve always held the age of 30 in my mind as the magical point of self-actualization in a person’s life, the point when they’ve finished developing and are prepared to continue life as the person they’re destined to be.

Jesus Christ, according to the Bible, led a fairly routine existence as a carpenter until his 30th birthday. All that other stuff came afterwards.

On December 13, I’m going to reach that particular landmark and I’m trying to figure out how to feel about it.

As a child, when I imagined myself as a 30-year-old man, I saw a mohawked cyborg wearing punk-style ripped jeans and smoking a cigarette. (I was a weird kid.) As I grew older I picked up more specific ambitions—most notably, writing—and my vision of the future started to congeal.

Pretty soon my goals were more specific: I wanted to publish a book by the time I was 30, I wanted to be a whitewater rafting guide and I wanted to find a life partner before the university game of romantic musical chairs came to a halt.

Beyond that, my primary goal was not to be bored by my own life.

To that end, I traveled to Tijuana to work in an orphanage. I quit a lucrative job lifeguarding and teaching swimming lessons to pursue an incredibly non-practical academic path in creative writing at UVic and UBC (doggy-piling myself with monstrous student debt in the process).

When given the opportunity to spend a summer working as a reporter in the Yukon, I took it (twice). And when I decided, on a whim, that I wanted to teach myself how to backpack while I was still in my 20s, I spent two months traveling through Thailand and Laos.

But mostly importantly, when faced with the option of dropping everything to pursue an itinerant life with my partner Darby a few years ago, I ditched on my grad school plans, left all my friends behind and moved with her to Nova Scotia.

Since then we’ve lived in a variety of cities Canada-wide. We’ll hit our 4-year anniversary in 2015, and we’ve even picked up canine progeny: Muppet and Buster, who I’m obsessed with.

As far as I can tell, things are humming along nicely. And though I’m not a whitewater rafting guide yet, I’m sure there’s still plenty of time.

And that book? Well, let’s put it this way: I’d rather publish my first novel at the age of 60 than put out something subpar, and though I have a decent third draft of my thesis novel Whatever you’re on, I want some half-finished, it will most likely be years until it ends up on bookshelves.

I’ve made peace with that.

Which all brings us to today.

For the first time in a decade, I have a legit long-term home. I only live a few blocks from the Nelson Star, so every morning I saunter down the Ward Street hill, enjoying the epic view across Kootenay Lake.

(Is it possible to be in love with a rock formation? Because I’m obsessed with Elephant Mountain.)

This job has given me the opportunity to meet an overwhelming variety of people. I never imagined I would be on a first-name basis with the local mayor, police chief and MLA simultaneously. And I feel so fortunate to have been exposed to the eclectic assortment of entertainers, artists and musicians who I’ve had the privilege to interview in the past seven months.

The best part? I feel like I have a function in society. Like I’m something more than a superfluous mouth to feed.

Years ago a friend told me that dreams change as you grow older. (Imagine how pissed you would be if you wished for a pony as a six-year-old and it arrived on your 50th birthday.)

Indeed, some of the things that were most important to me years ago have completely fallen off my mental radar (i.e. my short-lived acting ambitions) while other opportunities have taken me places I couldn’t have expected.

Here’s another choice maxim I’ve picked up: “It’s okay to have plans, as long as you don’t have to follow them.”

Pretty soon I’m going to be a 30-year-old, and though I’m not exactly the person I imagined I was going to be (I’ve yet to pick up a robotic arm, for instance), that’s okay. Ten years ago I’d never heard of Nelson, and now it’s my home. I had no idea I was going to be a journalist, and here I am with my face in the newspaper. I hadn’t met Darby yet, and now she’s the first and last person I see every day.

While I’m counting my blessings, I should also mention my life involves a significant amount of dog-cuddling, which contributes to my daily well-being.

This is my life? I’ll take it.

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