Thirty hasn’t been easy. I know I’ll lose the sympathy of more than half my readers by saying so.

How to know it's around my birthday and another year is passing. The Casa Blanca lillies are blooming again.

How to know it’s around my birthday and another year is passing. The Casa Blanca lillies are blooming again.

Coming into it, I was determined to prove wrong those who’d arrived at three decades ahead of me and sent back reports of starting to feel their age. The last 29 years had sailed by without a lot of introspection and big-deal-making, so why not this one also? It’s not like someone hits a switch at age 30, and everything changes after that, right? Wrong.

At least for me, my 30 year milestone ambushed me like someone sneaking up behind me and pulling a paper bag over my head. At least, that’s how I imagined it as I watched it unfold. I broke my foot and embarked on a series of medical and medical insurance adventures full of scans and -oscopies. It was the year I started to realize in a very personal way that life will rarely go according to any plan.

Yet, at some point as my plane touched down in Chile last year, en route to Argentina, I couldn’t help but reflect: How amazing that I was able to carry myself to the other side of the world after I had been reduced to a heap of ice packs and ankle alphabets and NBA draft predictions half a year earlier. The trip became more meaningful knowing how much I had been through to get there and that the whole venture had been in danger of not happening at all.

Things do not magically become clearer as we mature. But I think we become more capable of appreciating life’s realities the longer we swim through them. My travels were all the more important and rewarding knowing that they had been thwarted, then made possible again by hard work and determination. Even knowing that departures from the plan are about as predictable as gravity, it had been dreaming up a plan, and sticking to it, that got me to that point, where the plane met the tarmac in another continent with a lot of unknown connections ahead.

Happy hangover after 30 years of living.

Happy hangover after 30 years of living.

Looking up ahead to my birthday this Saturday, 31 doesn’t seem especially scary after coming to terms with 30 over the past year like a salmon running into Iron Gate dam on the Klamath River. So far at least, I am resilient, and fortunate to be here another year.

My goal is to keep living and keep writing about it, but in shorter form. Here’s to you, the ones along for the ride, pushing, pulling, cheering as we break down dams and get upstream to accomplish our goals in life.

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