I woke up to the early morning sunrise as it slowly grew across the floor in my bedroom. Usually, I would have slept in or watched cartoons, because that’s what Saturday mornings are for. But this morning, I had the urge to go for a walk. After quickly getting dressed, I quietly left the house to not wake up the rest of my family and started my stroll. The chilly, autumn air-filled my lungs and cooled my warm body as the golden leaves slowly fell. This walk would take me down our long driveway and to the main road, passing by the large sand pile, the baseball field and, finally, my elementary school. From the parking lot, my once white house was then glowing in the sun’s golden light, shining my way for the 5-10min walk back. I told myself that I would remember this moment forever.
That was a third of my life ago; a 10-year-old version of myself in up-state Vermont.
As my 30th birthday has passed this weekend, I reflect on key moments like this in my life. The joys, the sorrows, the embarrassments, the laughter, the tears, the pains, the near-deaths, the big wins, the missed opportunities…
I always felt like I was five years behind to what my age dictates I should be. As a youth, I was very confused by everything. Growing up, I felt like a child among my peers. Always the immature one, always the lost one without any clue, always seeking refuge in drawing or playing video games.
And in the past three decades, I’ve learned this: I’ll always be that child.
I’m still the youthful one, but it can be used for joy and open-mindedness. I’m still trying to find my way around, but I know how to search for the clues and get the help I need from friends and family. I still pursue my hobbies when I can, but also expand on my skills of design and coding to create the things I could have only dreamed of at ten years old.
And yes, I still play the original video game carts from the systems of my youth. Only now, I’m marveling at the technical architecture of legacy coding and appreciating the gameplay design and storytelling ability of these classics. Reliving moments that amazed me way back when and looking at them through older eyes. And creating new moments.
Life is the culmination of all these moments, defining who you are. Looking back, I’m still learning from my mistakes, but I’m proud of my accomplishments. But, I will always want to do more. I want to create, I want to explore, I want to learn and I want to play.
A friend of mine once told me, “Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional.” He’s absolutely right. I will grow old as an adult, but I will always be my childish self. I’ve been playing the game of life for thirty years with the hope to have many more to go.
Thirty. One-third of a way to ninety. And that’s if this “game” is played flawlessly. Something for me to think about the next time I go for an early Saturday morning walk this Autumn.