Have you seen the life rings on a Redwood or Sequoia tree? Each small line represents a year in that tree’s very long life. Humans carry marks of their own lives too–wrinkles, tattoos, freckles, scars, piercings, etc. We also carry those younger parts of ourselves inside us. With every year or layer we add on, it can be difficult to remember that our 5-year-old self is still inside us somewhere, as is our 16-year-old, or 21-year-old, or 40-year-old.
While I was biking home today, I had this uncontrollable urge to ignore my usual right-hand turn and continued riding, all the way to the ocean. My friends and family know that I crave motion, and I love to go fast. So I rode. The fog was rolling in through Golden Gate Park, as is customary on July nights in San Francisco, and I was overcome with joy, as I sped towards the beach. The 24-year-old version of me whispered, “See! Don’t you remember how fun this was? We used to do this all the time in China–just take off and ride for hours.” The wind blew in my face, and I could hear it and feel it all around me.
As I rode, I reflected on my 3 years in China. 4 years ago, I was working for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and I can’t believe it’s already time for London. I found my courage in China and an incredible determination and strength. Most importantly, China and its people opened my heart to another way of being in the world. Those stories live inside me, but I’m no longer there.
Last week I turned 29, and I’ve been giving this age a lot of thought. From what I’ve observed in the past, many 29-year-olds seemed stressed about turning 29 and being only a year from the dreaded 30, and they spent most of that year fearing 3-0. From my vantage point, they wasted it. 29 is a great age — you’re the seniors of the twenties class. You’re still young but you have the wisdom of nearly a decade. I’ve decided that I want to rock my 29th year and slide into 30 saying, “Wow! What an awesome ride!”
I’m working on making some significant changes in my life right now because it’s time. I’m grateful for all the layers that live inside me and remind me to eat ice cream cones (the 5-year-old) and ride to the beach to see endless horizons. I’m also glad that I get to live in the present and choose what to take with me and what to leave behind.