Posts tagged with "growing old"

days of heaven

I don’t get up to much late­ly. Living the life of a gen­tle­man of leisure does­n’t involve a lot more than the front page of red­dit, scrolling the infi­nite feed that nev­er leaves me bored. I also tend take a lot of naps; par­tial­ly cause I’m a poor sleep­er, par­tial­ly cause it makes the hours go by faster (and as a per­son who does his best to nev­er be sober, it resets my tol­er­ance).

Rideau Canal

On Ottawa’s bridge of locks, over­look­ing the Rideau Canal.

I want to devote myself to the pur­suits that inter­est me, but being pro­duc­tive has­n’t been easy. I haven’t had the inspi­ra­tion to write, the moti­va­tion to clean, the ener­gy to exer­cise, the dis­ci­pline to prac­tice, or the patience to med­i­tate. I only man­age to do the bare min­i­mum, which usu­al­ly just involves cook­ing a week of meals for Heather and some vac­u­um­ing before guests arrive.

It’s been hard to form pos­i­tive mem­o­ries cause I can’t con­cen­trate on any­thing for more than a few sec­onds. It always seems like there’s some­thing bet­ter to do, anoth­er but­ton I can press for a quick­er reward. Everything just becomes a dis­trac­tion from how bro­ken I feel.

chocolate poutine

Chocolate pou­tine, where the “fries” are chur­ros, the melt­ed “cheese curds” are marsh­mal­lows with vanil­la ice cream, the “gravy” is crunchy hazel­nut fon­due, and the “panties” are dropped. Then every­thing is cov­ered in Maltesers and driz­zled in choco­late sauce.

Maybe cause I’m old­er, grey­er, fat­ter, more tired, a shad­ow of my for­mer self. Most nights I go to bed feel­ing defec­tive or worth­less, then wake up feel­ing too help­less to do any­thing about it. A few months ago this would have been a sure­fire recipe for depres­sion, but now I’m try­ing to prac­tice non-action over weeks and months instead of days or hours.

Coming to terms with myself and my dif­fi­cult emo­tions — no mat­ter how unpleas­ant they may be — is help­ing me reduce my wants, end my com­pul­sive strug­gling to do every­thing bet­ter, and live more in the moment. For so long I’ve been try­ing to accept the things I can­not change, with­out also try­ing to accept the per­son to whom they’re hap­pen­ing.

Leaning into my trau­ma with open eyes and an open heart also involves pur­pose­ly think­ing about a past I’ve tried my best to for­get, and cry­ing1. It has­n’t been very pleas­ant, but I’m start­ing to feel like less of a vic­tim when I can con­front my suf­fer­ing from a posi­tion of strength and con­trol.

Heather and Jeff

I haven’t had a col­i­tis flare-up in a cou­ple years, which means I put on weight quick­ly, most­ly in the mid-sec­tion. These days I can’t fit into all my pants and rock a dad bod. For the first time in my life, I’ve been cut­ting back on por­tions and snacks.

None of this would be pos­si­ble with­out Heather, who’s been mend­ing the hole in my heart ever since we met. She’s the only rea­son I have the time, the resources, the strength, and the will to car­ry on. Anytime I feel like a bur­den, she reminds me that I’m a wor­thy one; a load she glad­ly shoul­ders, because I add to her life sim­ply by exist­ing.

When I over­hear her telling the cats to be good and take care of dad­dy before leav­ing for work every morn­ing, I can’t help but believe it. No one has ever loved me so much — not even myself — and as my bene­fac­tor, she wants noth­ing more for me than to be hap­py. I’m try­ing to take respon­si­bil­i­ty for that hap­pi­ness by show­ing myself com­pas­sion, even when I feel like I haven’t earned it.

  1. Only pos­si­ble months after I made the deci­sion to stop tak­ing arip­ipra­zole. []

this modern love breaks me

My vice-of-the-moment is instant decaf cof­fee with loads of sug­ar and French vanil­la non-dairy cream­er; a chem­i­cal sludge I have every morn­ing like dessert for break­fast. That and long show­ers (and maybe a bit of the sauce every now and then) are the only things I indulge in nowa­days.

It’s a sign that instinct has tak­en me over. I do what I want, and I’m start­ing to sus­pect that you’re an adult when that also hap­pens to be the right thing. Not when you hit an arbi­trary age, or have kids, or a career, or a house. It’s when you start to take con­trol because part of grow­ing up is under­stand­ing that you’re respon­si­ble for the results in your life. When you dis­cov­er that there’s no room in this place for old-school roman­tics, so you’ve got­ta play the game. When you lose your inno­cence after accept­ing that the world isn’t the way you thought it was or the way you want­ed it to be.

Still, it’s unset­tling to be ven­tur­ing ahead amidst such uncer­tain­ty. I’ve learned that you can’t wait for every­thing to be per­fect in your life before tak­ing a risk, or you’ll be wait­ing for­ev­er. There will always be cycles of stag­nan­cy and change, calm and storm, hurt­ing and heal­ing. I don’t mind the changes, but part of me resents the inno­cence lost. Quixotism has always been a part of me, some­thing that’s defined so many of my thoughts and pas­sions and work. It’s like I’ve lost a part of myself — and a part I’ve always liked — to mes­sages unre­turned and the days in between.

a short break in adolescence

I’ve been feel­ing like an adult.

This isn’t due to my fis­cal respon­si­bil­i­ties or my tidy home or any oth­er things I used to use as a mea­sure for matu­ri­ty, but from feel­ing like every­thing makes sense. Like I have all the answers the way adults seem to do, because I can see the big pic­ture, I under­stand what tru­ly mat­ters, and I don’t sweat the small things any­more.

It’s only now that I’m at a point where I feel like a grown up. Like this is final­ly who I’ll be for the rest of my life.

That’s not to say I’ve fin­ished grow­ing, that I’m not human or infal­li­ble, but there aren’t the same strug­gles or changes that I used to have, so my emo­tions and atti­tudes have evened out.

For a while I won­dered if I’d just become anoth­er turn­ing-30 cliché, but I real­ized it was nev­er about age. Various things have brought me to this matu­ri­ty, from con­ver­sa­tions to rela­tion­ships to trips far away. It all hap­pened to be around the begin­ning of a new decade in my life.

Maybe I’ve been feel­ing this way only because things are going so well. It’ll take some hard­ship to test how far I’ve tru­ly come as an adult, but until then I’ll try to live like a child, cause too often youth is wast­ed on the young.


I turned 30 in France. This was­n’t planned. It was­n’t even an excuse to buy the tick­et, when I made the deci­sion to fly there so many months ago.

But when I was at a din­ner par­ty that day, speak­ing with a woman who pol­ished her English from a year of doing her degree in London (and had an appro­pri­ate­ly posh British accent mixed in with her French), she guessed I was 30.

Amazing”, I said, “To the day.” She had to con­firm, “Aujourd’hui?”, and I could­n’t stop her from hush­ing the oth­er con­ver­sa­tions so she could announce it to the table.

portrait at age 30

Kisses from the babies, the girls, and the babygurls.

They lit a thin can­dle in my banana split sun­dae, sang me Happy Birthday in two lan­guages, and plied me with expen­sive alco­hols. Earlier that day, Darren sent me an e‑mail, telling me to get drunk. I did­n’t let him down.

It was a far big­ger deal than I was used to, but it was­n’t hard to appre­ci­ate the atten­tion, from peo­ple I had only known for an evening or two. I thought they must have been hap­pi­er than me, just to have an excuse to cel­e­brate some­thing, and talk, and drink, and cheer.

No won­der peo­ple like their birth­days. No won­der peo­ple love France.

There’s no way for me to deny how sig­nif­i­cant the last year has been. At one point, I final­ly felt like I was the per­son I’d be for the rest of my life. Then things changed, and I fell to my low­est point. But I picked myself up, and here I am now. Still human. Still alive.

This project was a way for me to doc­u­ment my evolv­ing life and aging skin as it is now. I nev­er knew how much I’d go through, and how much would change between each inter­val.

I turned 30, and I won­der who I’ll be in anoth­er day, anoth­er month, anoth­er year, anoth­er decade.

The Turning 30 Series

29 11/12: The Work in Progress

He who is not sat­is­fied with him­self will grow; he who is not sure of his own cor­rect­ness will learn many things.

—Chinese proverb

As much as I think I’ve become set­tled in my char­ac­ter and my mind­set, I still sur­prise myself with how much these con­tin­ue to change.

self-portrait at 29 11/12

Me and my Plushstache (hand­made with love by Shannon Gerard).

I used to think I’d final­ly be hap­py if I was a cer­tain per­son — some ide­al­ized ver­sion of myself who was inde­struc­tible, infal­li­ble, and flaw­less — but I recent­ly real­ized that I should­n’t see this as the goal. Instead, I should be hap­py with the fact that I’m not there yet, because change means evo­lu­tion and growth.

It would be fol­ly to believe that an arrival is also an end. One should con­tin­ue to strug­gle, and to doubt, and to hurt, and to be a work in progress.

I turn 30 in a month, and I still don’t know who I am.

The Turning 30 Series