Stepping into Early Thirties

Pondering the days gone by under the sky

When I was a kid people kept telling me I was precocious that they would think I had hard times fitting in. That kid finally got older last month. So last April I turned 31, biologically (I am hesitant in using the term 'biologically' because it refers to the actual age of my vital organs that need a thorough medical check up, but you know what I mean). Mentally, I always feel like I have been inhabited by a laid-back hundred-year old soul. So, turning 31 doesn’t affect my maturity much particularly on how I perceive my outer world through the number of days gone. Plus, they say age is just a number. Whoever said that they must have the privilege to live a long life. Frankly speaking I agree with that cliché saying. Age is just a number which is true, but I guess maturity is also crucial regarding the number of days someone passes by.

Not so long time ago I began to acknowledge that important things in life are conceived not merely by number or quantity, but also the quality. I used to adore numbers (and even statistics). The sheer quantity of money, time, possession, and other materialistic items seemed riveting for my insatiable capitalistic desire. However, over time I shifted my perspective from focusing on numbers to examining what lies behind this number as my footprint of my biological life span. My body, just like yours, records emotions and experiences of space and time which carve a personal meaning of life whether each day spent is a blessing in disguise or festival of vain existence. So perhaps one hour of your life could have different experience and meaning to one hour of my life. I genuinely thank Einstein for this.  

Quantity and quality has become the combination of equilibrium I aspire to reach in life. I realized that I couldn't have the same level of quantity and quantity on both hands. It sounds paradoxical because it is. I mean in my eyes life has appeared as a beautiful paradox: of immediacy and slowness, of tragedy and comedy, of quantity and quality. For this I certainly laugh a lot at the poignancy that life throws at me, but it also goes the other way around when life laughs at me for being grateful living a day longer on birthday celebration. That’s why I had stopped upholding the tradition of celebrating birthday in any exaggerated social forms since long time ago. Another reason is that I recently binge-watched videos on Youtube about old people who make the most of their lives. 

Check them out here:

I have no idea if I would be as happily as they are celebrating their old lives. And I am not going to wait to be old to enjoy my life (or lucky enough to live a long life). If I am about to celebrate anything, it should be every single day in my life as it consists of equal values of daily experiences. This notion has brought me to a conclusion that birthday does not hold a more significant values than any other day might do.

So when I knew it was my birthday, I just did the usual day when I woke up early in the morning and did my 30-minutes morning exercise. After that I went to the kitchen to rummage food but only to find nothing. I went straight to the living room and voila my parents and brother were singing the infamous birthday song with a cake on a table waiting to be ravished.  

In the middle of this Covid-19 outbreak. In this economy.

Loves of my life

I swear I had already told them that I don’t share mutual fondness about birthday cakes and they better spend their money on the essentials, but they always argued that the birthday cake was actually a treat for them. It happened to just collide with my birthday. So, they used my birthday as an excuse to spoil themselves. I was about to get mad, but when I saw them enjoying the cake and ration many pieces for our neighbors, my anger gradually subsided. Instead my tears rushed to my eyes and started to free fall. I didn’t know why my eyes summoned these tears; I was supposed to loathe it, not feeling so sentimental. In short that morning was closed with me and my family praying together mainly for this pandemic to be over soon and people recover healthily.

It got me thinking that my birthday actually wasn't about me at all. It also had something to do with other people’s feeling and perception towards my existence. This piqued my dull interest. I started to ponder if celebrating birthday is about sharing what we have with people we love and praying for each other’s wellness, wouldn’t I want my birthday to be celebrated every single day?

I spent the rest of the day thinking of this (as I got nothing else to do). It led me to a realization that starting my day in my early 30s has anchored a sense of gratitude of my own pace in life. It was obvious that when I looked back at my 20s, I could see that I was once irrationally ambitious, overly judgmental, disrespectful, bitter, and lacking of empathy. I realized that I have been overlooking many essential things and only focused on the things I desired. Surely it was neither entirely wrong nor bad, but I got a sense I lived on autopilot mode during my early 20s. It is the mode that only incorporates basic survival mechanism to keep myself afloat in life without thriving it, without cherishing it. When I was on autopilot, my self-awareness faded into background, and it caused me to only see moments in life on a flash without seizing them. It felt like I was standing on the pelican crosswalk only to watch all the vehicles pass me by while time was ticking relentlessly.

I took this matter seriously by scrutinizing my journals. I happened to see lots of missing entries during my years in university which explains my assumption of living on autopilot. Maybe it was days when I woke up without the appetite for life and had no interests in embracing a new day. In my defense, I wasn’t a financially privileged student, so I depended very much on my scholarships and still had to take part time jobs. When I graduated university I had to keep my pace up so that I could land on a good job, while trying hard to follow my conscience to fulfill my passion, and looking after my family at the same time. It was quite hard to be self-conscious when many things hit you at the same time.

For the past ten years life had bloomed silver lining and changed my heart little by little. I lost people I loved due to death and separation; family members and close friends. My heart broke so many times I lost count. I got broke many times. I once had mild injuries from a traffic accident. I almost had a second traffic accident, the fatal one. I finished my degrees with sweat and tear and succeeded collecting my academic certificates. I once nearly burn down all those certificates I just attained (to point out that my existence wasn’t solely defined by some pieces of sheets) because I had intention to live on the road (certainly as a hippie). I once got really sick I had prepared my will (which apparently not only worried my family, but also my two close friends who came over see to me and looked so concerned that made one of them was crying). I hurt and was hurting. I had failures and setbacks. And all I could do was grieving.

It had caused me detached from people around me and subconsciously developed a self-taught skill to desensitize my feeling. I felt ridiculously independent and fond of aloneness which strangely jaded my view on relationship with my friends, siblings, even parents. I must admit that I became individualistic, thorny, and purposeless. I had been holding onto the idea that what happens in life is only a survival period between the day I am born and the day I will be buried six feet under. Nevertheless, this autopilot mode is neither bad nor wrong. It is a way of someone to survive the unbearable life, to overcome adversity which in fact got me places and gets me here. I had quite high expectation stepping out of my comfort zone that ended up dragged me down for the sake of survivability. Since I was on autopilot, I was unable to fully fathom the lesson hidden on my daily experience. And the worst part is that, I didn’t even realize this.

I felt lucky enough when life kept slapping me hard on my face over and over only to wake me up from this autopilot. If this were a Hollywood movie, I would be a hideous villain who got last-minute epiphany and switched side to be redeemed before the movie ended.

After life slapped me, an indescribable feeling surged. I felt something inside of me had changed but I had no idea what precisely. Maybe it is my worldview that changed significantly. Maybe it is my faith that improves over time. Maybe it is my self-awareness that enabled me to acknowledge the rage boiling inside myself. Maybe it is the a series of detour in my misadventure to rediscover the purpose of my life and learn to accept the unacceptable. Maybe it is my intention that pushes me to learn to let go of things. Or maybe, it is my reticent relief to enjoy small things that matter and celebrate little things of any aspect in in life.

If there is anything I must celebrate in life, gratitude is at the top of the list. Therefore, no matter how old I am going to be one day, I dare say that even without birthday cakes or song, I will be still profoundly grateful for every second that has passed.

Cheers for making it into early thirties!


  1. Happy birthday! Stay awesome, stay healthy, stay happy. 😁

    1. Hi, thank you for stopping by. All the best for you as well :)

  2. Happiest belated birthday. Thank you for making this post.


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