I turn 33 today. In most ways, it is a surprise. Oh, I don’t mean that somehow 33 managed to sneak up on me and pop an air-filled bag behind my head; rather, that in many of the ways and metrics I use to gauge myself, I don’t feel like I’m 33.
For example, we went to the fair Saturday evening. There were moments that I definitely felt my age there, such as staggering off of the hang glider ride that I foolishly went on (no, I didn’t get the name), trying to keep from throwing up while assuring my stomach and ears that yes, I understand they’re quite pissed off with me, no I won’t be foolish enough to forget again, and no really I won’t be indulging in any more high-G foolishness. On the other hand, I felt 12 again when the only exhibits that I really liked were the cats (poor kitties, all locked up by snot-nosed 4-H kids for two weeks in a cage! just to win a damn ribbon) and the Legos; everything else was there and I appreciated the work and pride the folks had put into it but, enh, not my thing.
Or at work. Some days I feel like I’m on top of my game and that I’m the equal of anyone in the office; I’m experienced and professional, calm and cool, just hitting my stride and the prime of my life. Other days, like this last week, when I’m grinding myself away against the project that just won’t die and I’m at work at 11:45 on a Friday night rebuilding my test environment for a fourth time, only this time everything has inexplicably slowed down to a crawl and tasks that were taking 15 minutes are now taking an hour and a half, I feel like I’m 17 again only without that inexhaustible supply of energy.
I have this strange dichotomy going on at church, too. Steph and I recently went to our regional pre-Convention gathering, since we’re alternate delegates for our congregation to this year’s Diocesan Convention. We were definitely the youngest people in the room and a few of the other attendees made a point of telling us how much they enjoyed seeing younger faces. One very nice gentleman who clearly has far too much time on his hands made a point of telling me I need to be ordained, and when one of the priests there overheard him she agreed. That’s something I emotionally associate with either young people in seminary or older people who have been priests for longer than my kids have been alive, even though I know rationally that the majority of priests in the ECUSA come to it as a second career. On the other hand, I feel old at the mere thought of trying to go through the discernment process, let alone seminary and ordination. It’s that whole lack of energy again; I just don’t feel as wound up as I used to be.
Back when vinyl records were the rage, there were three primary formats, all measured by how fast they spun: 78rpm, 45rpm, and 33 1/3rpm. I remember a couple of rare examples of the 78rpm format; we had a recording of Peter and the Wolf in 78. Of course, 45s were usually singles, and I still have a handful of them kicking around. 33 1/3 was your long-play (LP) format; I’ve got a couple of those, including a soundtrack to Fiddler on the Roof, and there were quite a few movie soundtracks I had memorized back in the day (Benji and Escape to Witch Mountain come to mind). But it was the 33 1/3 that were always the longest albums; ou got through the material too quickly with 45s or 78s. As fast as thirty-three and one-third revolutions in a single minute might sound, it was the slowpoke that got the job done.
Judging my life by the standards of vinyl, I’m played out less than a minute. I’m just getting started, and while I’m not as tightly wound, I’m not in danger of running out of material any time soon. Now, I realize I’m a human, not a piece of plastic with sounds encoding in a spiral groove (good thing, because my groove isn’t spiral!), so taking this vague metaphor too far could get me into trouble. Nevertheless, that’s the imagery that sticks in my head — I’m just settling down for the long haul. Pacing and discipline — two things I’ve always needed work on — are my watchwords for the next 33 years.