Today is my twenty-sixth birthday. In accordance with my continued aging, my back has decided to throw itself out. While I was napping. No, I don’t know how that works.
Passing the midpoint of my twenties has forced me to confront the fact that I kind of expected to be a lot farther than I am now. There are days when it feels like the only things I’ve really accomplished with my life are not being dead and having a lot of bizarre, awkward stories to tell at parties. I guess those are both important in their own way, but I seem to have sidestepped a lot of the milestones that people my age tend to have passed. I realize it’s unproductive and frankly a bit stupid to worry about these things, since life isn’t one-size-fits-all, but I do get pangs of guilt when I see someone my age (or younger) who’s so much better and more successful than I am at the things I care about. I feel as if I’ve wasted a lot of time holding myself back.
This past weekend I was Netflix-surfing and decided to finally start watching Stephen Fry in America. I started with the “Mississippi” episode, wanting to see where he would go and what he would say about my adopted hometown of Chicago. (I am fiercely vain about this city.)
In the episode, he hits a lot of the expected landmarks: blues clubs or their former locations, Second City, the Sears Tower. He also goes to The Weiner Circle, much to my delight and sympathy. While he’s there, he has a conversation with a couple of Second City cast members and says what I imagine are the wisest words ever spoken at that establishment. (Granted, that’s not a high bar to clear given the usual throng of late-night drunks. Every time I’ve been there I’ve witnessed either sexual harassment or property damage. Still, wise words indeed.)
“If, from the vantage point of my elderly position of a fifty-year-old, I can offer any advice, it is that it is never too late. That the idea that the door closes and – “oh gosh, I’m already thirty, nothing’s happened” – that’s complete nonsense. Actually, almost the reverse is true.”
Serendipitous timing. I’ve been taking those words to heart. Hell, I’ve got years until I even hit thirty, something my friends on the other side of that line never cease to remind me of. I just need to make every day count. But, you know, not beat myself up over it.
Good luck with that, me!