I have heard a lot of talk lately about reaching milestones, as I neared one of my own - my 30th birthday - I'm not ashamed to say.
And why should I be? I have attained what is expected of me at this point in my life. Is that not the biggest reason we dread reaching certain signposts as we age? While on the topic of getting older recently, a woman told me she had absolutely dreaded turning 40 because she had not yet achieved what she had expected of herself by then.
Of course, there is always the fear of getting older and having your health deteriorate, but I don't think I have to worry about that quite yet. Although, I recently noticed that I make a sound like a groan or a grunt when getting in and out of my car. I don't remember ever doing that before.
As the milestone approached, some of my elders lamented the passing of their own youth, "To go back and do it all over again, knowing what I know now." Of course, if we could do this, we would never get to be the person we are today. We are shaped by our experiences. The pain and suffering we felt yesterday can become the strength and compassion we have today.
Older and wiser friends have informed me that turning 30 is easy, it's turning 50 that's hard! Fortunately, I'll have to take their word for it, for now.
Turning 30 has always been thought of as a defining moment for me. As a child, when an adult told me their age I knew that if it exceeded 20-something I was dealing with a real grown-up, someone of an entirely different generation than me; more like a parent than a peer. Thirty signified the death of childhood and the delivery of adulthood.
I don't really feel this way anymore. I now know that as certain milestones approach, we somehow expect that we will feel different after we have reached it, but we rarely do. We carry on with our life as we always have.
"Age is just a number" (trite but true; we have all heard this saying before) and birthdays are just a way to celebrate each of our years gone by. Aging is the unavoidable cost of being alive.
Another saying I have heard and taken to heart lately is this: it is a privilege to grow old - it means you aren't dead!