Reflections on the Last Day of my Thirties

They say that March goes out like a lamb, but this year March is a biting lamb with steel wool. Of course, I’m in a building downtown with heat behind glass so the weather is abstract.

I leave my apartment, get on the bus, and ride to within two blocks of work. I travel from contained space to contained space. So different than my grandparents and their grandparents who were connected more to the weather then I. Still, we keep in touch and know when the weather turns nasty it means that problems pop up for those who don’t have the resources to get out of it, and those whom the extremeness afflicts — like Fargo, North Dakota, on the verge of flooding and filled today with snow.

In modernity, weather is a kinetic painting against the frame of our window panes. We like to think about what’s on the other side of the glass. Like the woman I sat next to on a plane, whose husband kept talking about the weather throughout the world. “Oh, he only watches the weather channel,” she explained. “The rest of the news is too upsetting to him.”

And maybe that’s not so bad. Our great-great-grandparents would have looked outside in the morning and dressed for it. Gone and done the chores. Walked to the factory, or taken care of the animals. They would have read the newspaper about the changes in the world, but with the exception of rare massive events, those changes were novelties in their lives.

We think back on those times in order to measure how successful our modern world is, and often feel that we’re lacking so canonize them. But then, look how the life-spans increase, and the disease rates fall. How we’ve cracked the genome and have a finger-hold into astounding universes that can transform us into a twenty-first century life as surely as the violent and radical events one-hundred years ago brought forth the very idea of modernity.

So, in the end, this is a little essay on gratitude. For what we have, and where we are. Tomorrow, we get to pull a few pranks and thanks to this figure the fool, get away with it. Today we can measure those pranks by thinking about our own achievements and foolishness. Then we close out the first quarter, marveling at how quickly this year is spinning by us.

And for me, closing out the quarter means ending another decade. Of the goals I set for myself, I made them. I’ve made new ones for this next neatly grouped set of ten years. In that measure, I call success. In measure of dreams, I’m not quite where I want to be, but if I were wouldn’t that mean that the station is approaching? I’d rather set my travel to further than my pocketbook allows, and only get off when the conductor categorically insists.

For my forties my goals are publishing, writing. Transforming my life into one where my stresses are fewer and my output of words is higher. Of creating a flow where that is possible. During my thirties I honed my craft, and now I need to build the furniture that this craft allows. Maybe this furniture will be remaindered at market, and maybe it will be comfortable and people will like it. Who can say? I only know that I’ve run out of my allotment of metaphors for my thirties, and I don’t want to dip into the quota that starts tomorrow. Until then, I’m concrete. Until then, I’m looking backward. At midnight, I’m all about tomorrow.


Posted by: Martin McClellan
On the date of: March 31, 2009 03:07 PM
Lovely essay. Looking forward is a grand idea and I can't wait to read what you write in the coming years.
What a lovely read. I know you are going to be well read by hoards of intellectuals very very soon (and probably a few ignorants, too but Peas and carrots, remember?). You can do it, Martin!
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