When I was a child (not just at heart but of body and mind) there were things that seemed in terms of the timeline of my life to be as far (if not farther) away as the moon. High school, college, marriage, kids–these things were barely blips on the radar, distant stars to contemplate at night in bed, fighting sleep.
I don’t know on which birthday it came up, if I thought of it on my own or if someone pointed it out to me, but somewhere in the short span of my childhood I became aware of the fact that one day, once in my entire lifetime, my birthday would fall on a date that was exciting in its rarity: 11/11/11
Of course I knew that I would be turning twenty-seven (note: count the letters in twenty-seven…go ahead…I’ll wait) and I knew that it would be a Friday, but outside of that, the date held infinite possibilities. Where would I be in my life on 11/11/11? Where would I be living? What kind of job would I have? Would I be married? Would I have kids? Who would my friends be? What would I have accomplished?
In a world of possibilities, I carved out a trail from that point in childhood to today, the eve of 11/11/11. I now have answers to all of those questions, and I wonder if I could revisit my child self and supply those answers, what would the kid version of me say in response?
I’d like to think that kid-me would have asked one simple follow-up question:
Are you happy?
Yes, I am.
I am truly happy with the current result of the path that I have taken. It has not been a perfect journey and it has not resulted in a perfect life, but it is my life. It’s my unique combination of experiences (good and bad), lessons (hard and easy) and events (sad and happy). At twenty-six years and 364 days I have achieved lifelong goals (obtaining my degrees from Florida State; publishing a novel) without sacrificing lifelong relationships.
Tomorrow I will celebrate 11/11/11 with the parents who have given me everything and the three friends who have been at my side for almost twenty years (plus their spouses!). If I am the kind of person who can be worthy of their love, respect and friendship, then I know my path from every 11/11 before to the 11/11 of 2011 was the right one to take.
With that, I leave you in the hands of the barefoot poet himself, Jimmy Buffett:
I’m just hanging on while this old world keeps spinning
And it’s good to know it’s out of my control
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from all this living
It’s that it wouldn’t change a thing if I let go.