Monday, June 9, 2014

10,000 days

Today is my 10,000th day.

My first day, Friday, January 23, 1987, I was born in Trenton, Missouri, in a hospital that has recently been torn down. I have loved Fridays pretty much ever since.

Ten thousand days is a long and wonderful journey, but I am not old. It's in vogue on social media for twenty-somethings to gaze in wonder at college kids born in the Clinton Administration, the girls for some reason wearing the jeans of a 1980s housewife, and conclude that we're #old.

But we're not old. People three times our age are old. You cannot be old for 70 percent of your life.

As Mark Twain wrote in his autobiography about a time when he was 32: "I wrote the rest of 'The Innocents Abroad' is sixty days… I was very young in those days, exceedingly young, marvelously young, younger than I am now, younger than I shall ever be again, by hundreds of years."

But the purpose of this post isn't to be like those graduation advice columns that are really just thinly veiled rants. One of the chief things I've learned is the importance of humility.

Even if I'm not old, 10,000 days does give some perspective. There have been plenty of small, routine, comfortable days. For a while, it was tough to imagine days that wouldn't involve going to school in Gilman City. There have been big days, family milestones and incredible trips and epic games I still talk about with friends.

There have also been odd, quirky, even bizarre moments, like seeing Rihanna perform an outdoor concert at halftime of the Sun Bowl in El Paso, before she was really famous. Or the time I went on a massive road trip through the American West with two friends, ending up in Salt Lake City watching one of them walk around the Mormon headquarters in shorts in the snow. Or the time I tried to feed a pigeon a blue Skittle in London. He picked it up, held it an instant, and spit it out, leaving tiny beak marks on it. He probably wanted a red one.

I've learned to value people and experiences over things when it comes to discretionary spending. I am still learning humility, patience with others, and to avoid comparisons with others. Check back on those.

Fortunately, I've learned a lot of things I love. My family and my parents, still married and still farming. Any opportunity to chat with my friends, whether it's over a meal or in front of a TV or anywhere. Autumn. Spring. Summer. Even winter, when the snow is so beautiful. Living in Missouri with its four seasons and taking trips to Colorado. Giving and helping others. Walking into a hot gym on a cold night for a basketball game. The pageantry and camaraderie and fury of a college football Saturday, when Columbia is at her best. The familiar drive to the place I'll keep referring to as "home," probably forever. A game at Kauffman Stadium. Good steak. Pop in glass bottles. Fireworks. The American West. The NCAA Tournament. Harvest. Parks & Recreation. The outdoors. Laughter. Music. Playing golf and tennis and any other sport. Slowpitch softball. Girls, pretty ones. When I'm writing and I can make something sing. That I can make a living writing. On and on and on.

And of course, any attempt to commemorate 10,000 days would be incomplete without crediting God, his blessings, and the ancient comfort of Isaiah 41 on days when the way is uphill.

I have my share of challenging days, even if the vast majority are things I won't give a second thought to in a year, but overall it's been a great 10,000 days. I've long believed people are meant to chase their dreams, to go for it, to have courage. Do what you love, whether that's traveling all over, appreciating your hometown in ways others don't, or both. Hit send. Go to New York City to see the Great Rivera in Yankee Stadium. Go to London to see the Great Federer at Wimbledon. Live life to the fullest, but live for something more than just your life and your happiness right now.

In the last couple of weeks, I've worked in a field on a farm I own with my dad, gone to a baseball game with friends, went to a street concert to be a "come with guy," enjoyed downtown Columbia, played golf in the twilight, marveled at a one-year-old at her first birthday party, and learned about a new service opportunity at church that's going to challenge me and remind me how much I have to learn. A float trip, slowpitch softball season, and a trip to visit home lie ahead.

The good old days are right now. Enjoy.