I’ve come to enjoy the knowledge that I am still young. That I have so much time. But I am, on occasion, painfully aware of how quickly a single day goes by.
Today was my 23rd birthday, and it felt over as soon as it began.
This is not to say that it is not special to age. I have now seen more birthdays than I once thought I would, and though birthdays become less of an elaborate, celebratory occasion as one gets older, I see each new year of my life as a tremendous gift.
I’ve begun to think harder about how I want to use this gift. “Something in the world forces [me] to think,” but I sense something else, quite a different thing, forces me to act.
This fall, I started teaching on my own for the first time. I’ve won an award for my playwriting. I’m working on creative submissions for several out-of-state conferences. At the end of this month, I’m set to host the first reading in the Vermillion Literary Project’s LiTrash series. I’ve always loved academia, but now I feel that academia loves me back.
How fortunate am I that my passion and my talent happen to be the same thing.
But I want to do more.
John Patrick Shanley writes: “I’m looking for love. But if I can’t get love, I can get pizza. In short: I can get a lot, and still hope for more.”
It is my sense that this year will be about that kind of hope. Recognizing that, yes, I’ve gotten quite a lot already. But I can still hope for, pursue, and get more.
And I do want more.
More time, more art, more love. (More pizza.)
I rise with the sun and hope that will make each day seem longer. I leave my cubicle and walk over to the English Department offices and hope that I will see someone I know, and have a chance to tell them how much I value our relationship. I select readings for my students and hope that they will be moved. (They sometimes aren’t.) I slowly expand my thesis project and hope that it will find the middle ground between what I’ve told people it will be and what it actually wants to be. I read complicated texts and hope that they will challenge me to grow. (They do.)
I am moved. I am frequently, pleasantly unsettled. Stubborn me, I am moved every day, especially by the patience, generosity, and supportiveness of my peers, my colleagues.
I am moved to more.
That, I believe, is the value of aging: being moved to hope for more.