Life goes too quickly. It's not that I wish on myself the simplicity, joy, or naivete of days I can never again reach. No, that's not it.
With each year, I suppose, the spectre of a frown hints itself in the distance. What is his name? Boredom? Burnout? I am now forgetting things I have learned. This is rather disconcerting, as I have usually done things the other way around.
Take programming. My teenage years were an internally spectacular light show of mental effort, taking on new challenges, assimilating the books that now still stare at me, dusty, on my desk shelves. But I went to college, and I don't need them any more.
Last week, I did the unthinkable. I sent my Emacs manual to a friend. I had lusted after it for years, and when I finally bought it at LinuxWorld, I was more excited than I had been in a long time. But it sat. I didn't have time. I was too busy reading Truman Capote, too busy looking at Dickens and Shelley and Yeats to bother much with Richard Stallman.
I swapped it for a WiFi card for my Sharp Zaurus handheld. Sufficiently geeky to keep my self respect, but it is somewhat of an epoch that I am now giving away books I have long-desired, finally bought, and never read.
A White Stone
Lewis Carroll once marked in his diary, "I mark this day with a white stone." It was the day he met Alice. I have no white stone, I have no Alice, and I am not really looking for either.
I suppose, ultimately, to be 21 is to embrace the fact that I really am growing up, to realize why freshman and sophmores and high school students suddenly ask me for advice, value what I have to say (The Horror!), and I realize that I am older than shop employees.
One cannot be a whiz kid forever. And I should just drop that idea, drop that mentality, on this day perhaps. This will seem silly to those older and wiser, perhaps. But I'm no longer a teenage programmer. I'm a dinosaur. I'm not even a programmer any more (unless I can find a suitable merging point between writing English and code).
Beginnings. Endings. Rites of Passage. And today is so busy, we spent twenty minutes at lunch yesterday celebrating my birthday. No time on the day. School School School.
This is also what it means to become older, perhaps. Birthdays don't matter any more. They swing from a celebration of life to the heavy thud of another year punctuated by the tickings of a maniacal clock whose final hour we do not know.
On the Smiling Side of the Moon...
Our celebration on Sunday was awesome! Family and friends sent cards (which will once again go on display around my room. Sometimes, I forget my walls aren't a Tinderbox document. Oh. That's why I have the Tinderbox postcard taped on it) and money.
Mom and dad found this awesome book at our really awesome local used bookstore. When I was young, we didn't watch TV. When we weren't listening to radio drama, we would read. And read. And read. I remember bringing shopping bags of books home on our monthly trek to the county library (two floors! Can you imagine?). The earliest books I can remember reading aloud (with my mom) were the stories of Paddington written by Michael Bond (woah. He's still alive. I need to add him to my list of childrens writers I must send thank-you notes to). I think I related to the stories of Paddington since he was from a South American country, liked marmalade, and was a bumblingly-clever, awesome bear. My father is from a Central American country, and I tend to be rather bumblingly obvlivious. Yes, I think Paddington is my role model. Especially the cocoa and inventive friends.
Paddington is the reason I like marmalade.
Thanks Mom and Dad! I love you.
My other presents, equally symbolic and useful, were two handy notebooks, a shirt from Guatemala (thanks Mom and Dada), and a book (from my brother) describing a theology of the local church (summer food for thought).
In the past, I rejected cake for health reasons (the best year, we had a veggie plate. Scrumptious!), but I managed to eat some this time through.