Today, I’m 30.
I’m cool with that. I’m glad to be 30.
My 20’s were good to me, but I won’t miss them.
Back in 1999 I was a junior at Miami University. I watched the Travel Channel religiously and especially enjoyed Alby Mangels’ show Adventure Bound. It was around this time during which I decided I wanted to go places that I actually considered joining the NAVY. I liked boats, liked water, wanted to travel. Why not?
Jimmy Buffett saved me. That’s kind of embarrassing to admit, but it’s true. I had listened to Buffett in the past, but I really started to feel the music. I wanted to escape somewhere tropical, have adventures, and fly by the seat of my pants. The NAVY would be structured and I decided I didn’t want that — thank God. So I entered my 20’s with a “let the winds of life blow me where they may” philosophy.
And blow they did.
20-25% of my 20’s was spent somewhere other than the U.S. If you count, Key West, as another country, which you really should, that number is more like 40%.
Yesterday I got an email from my agent Caren commenting on my milestone birthday:
“Does it feel good to be where you are right now? It must feel great to have your book and have such a great family.”
It does feel good. Even at 26 I wouldn’t have dreamed that I’d be where I am now – wife, baby, mortgage, book. But even these things which seemed so unlikely at the time, seemed much more possible than the one thing absent most of my 20’s – contentment.
At 30, I’m content.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not packing it in by any means. I’m driven to be a great dad, a better husband and son and brother (things that I wasn’t the best at in my 20’s), to continue to explore our world through pursuing stories for magazines, radio programs, and books. As much as my 20’s were defined by “Restlessness and lack of contentment,” I suspect my 30’s will be defined by “Drive.”
Looking to my 4th decade, the path is clear. The winds of life still blow. It’s just that now I don’t wander what direction I want them to take me, what I want to do, and who I want by my side doing it. (To be clear: My restlessness and lack of contentment had nothing to do with Annie. She’s been my girl since I was 18 and my loyalty has never faltered. If anything, she should be given credit for showing me the way to contentment. Her patience in my 20’s is quite possibly the best gift anyone has ever given me.)
So I welcome 30 as I welcome any other day: I know more than I knew yesterday. And each day and decade, I enjoy and appreciate life more.