Monday was my birthday. I turned 34 years old on July 12.

“Congrats, bro,” a friend of mine said to me. “You’ve outlived Nero, Alexander the Great, and Jesus Christ.”

To say nothing of Sam Cooke, Chris Farley, or any of a number of other celebrated figures in our culture.

Besides, “outlived” is certainly a rather hasty bit of presumption. I could no sooner outlive Jesus than I could manifest His divinity.

Another friend of mine, upon hearing my bewilderment of advancing age, quipped that he had socks older than 34.

I have got to see these socks.

While I certainly do not wish to remain in some state of suspended adolescence, I must confess that this year’s occurrence of my birthday seemed more of a grim realization than a true celebration.

As a child, I can remember wondering what it would be to cross the threshold of age 18. Later, as a teenager, the age of 21 took on a certain romance. In adulthood, the number 30 became my next rite of passage.

But for “34” there is nothing dynamic or significant. It is simply another numeral in a long succession. Another year to remind me that I have as much permanence as a morning’s dew. Vanity, thy name is I.

The daylight hours dance upon my brow and beat hard lines into my weary features. My glowering dark mane pales more into silver with each setting Sun. Helpless to hold back the clock’s hands, I feel the very strength of my frame weakening by the hour.

Oh, but it is not all lament and mourning for me. I am more than the sum of height and weight, of molecular density and empirical quantification. None of us are so reduced.

Life fills our being, pouring outward in every direction. Our physical form, held captive to the strictures of Creation, is but the window by which our Souls are seen. Luminous beings are we.

Within my spirit, I hold Time itself in thrall. I am large, I contain multitudes.

Looking back upon younger days does not bring regret, instead I marvel at how far in my journey I have traveled.

I have been in love with the same woman now for nearly half of my entire lifetime. I can hardly remember what it was like to not know or love her. I am a better man because of her.

Together, we have brought four children into the world, as well as one other that was lost to us. Our “wee ones” are the delights of our eyes, and it is my prayer that I am able to raise them well. It is no easy task, to be sure, but it is certainly a worthy one.

My circle of friends circles greater outward. The chairs at my table are shuffled, some hither and others yon. Long-lost friends are found again, but yet a fresh kinship is forged. Polished by experience and the maturity of age. Others fall by the wayside, until our paths will cross again.

I breathe deep the fragrance of my fond remembrances, which are seasoned by the pains of hard lessons learned, and suffused with the depth of wisdom. Love and loss encircle each other as prowling tigers.

My youthful dreams have faded, newer and better ones crowd in and keep me yearning. Dreams for my community, for my loved ones, for myself. Ambitions and hopes stretch tantalizing before me, just so beyond my grasp.

The years continue to spill through my fingers. Even as I write upon the sands of time, my foolish words washed away by an infinite sea, I am yet a glimmering strand in a greater tapestry.

Grow old with me, my friends, the best is yet to come.

What’s past is prologue.


3 thoughts on “XXXIV

  1. Happy belated birthday! Wait till you hit 40! 🙂 My youngest brother will be 40 in a few days. We all remember this big party our parents had for one of their friends. They had a t-shirt made with “Lordy, Lordy, Jim is 40” printed on it. We all thought it was so old!!

    When you look back from my vantage point, 34 is quite young. Enjoy it!

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