In my usual habit of celebrating symbolic dates, I now sit and ponder on the significance of this day. Tomorrow I turn 30, a date as a little girl one fears as an impossibly distance and ancient-sounding age. Now on the verge of reaching this age, I am bemused to find I fear it no longer. I do however, enjoy the momentary wallow in sentimentality in which I am about to indulge.
Exactly a year ago right now, I was resting in my flimsy tent on the final campsite before Mount Kilimanjaro’s peak. I had been walking for 4 days already, and little did I know I was about to embark on easily the most difficult endeavour I have ever endured… 22 hours of walking without any sleep, most of it in the dark, with little oxygen, frozen water supply, and limbs that screamed with pain. I saw a man almost die from altitude sickness that I eventually had to nurse to health for the next week. But I guess importantly, I made the summit, on the dawn of my 29th birthday. I remember sitting at Uhuru Peak, 6km above sea-level, so exhausted I didn’t have the energy to stand, and thinking to myself: “I wonder what the year ahead holds for me…” Those that know me know it turned out to be a pretty crap year, too many dramas even for my liking, too much unsettledness and heartbreak. But 2007 is all about shaking off the ickiness of last year, and framing it in terms of how instructional last year was, how much fibre it added to my character, and how utterly essential it all will turn out to be for whatever lies ahead.
The interesting thing about turning 30, is that it invites reflection not only on the last year, but on the last decade. I have to say, my 20s have been pretty darn good. If I had envisaged when I was 20 what the following decade would be like, I think I would have described exactly what has eventuated… I always dreamt of travelling the world (I have, many times), I yearned to live overseas (4 years in London), I wanted a wild and crazy fun party life (yep), exciting affairs and relationships (tick), a varied and lucrative career (so far so good). Ok, so I didn’t achieve millionaire status as I planned, nor have I published a book… but there is time still for that.
A beautiful friend of mine, Gisela (photo to the right), gave me some words of wisdom over New Years up in Byron Bay. She said one’s 30s is about building on the growth achieved in your 20s, and its when it all comes together. You face it with openness and acceptance, with peace in your heart, with a love of oneself. So, that will be my motto for the next year, and the next decade. I will try to let go of my expectations, try to shrug off those controlling worries, and niggling fears. Its about savouring the richness of life: of family, friends, health, music, art, food, and a strong sense of self, coupled with an everpresent cocoon of openness and acceptance. Thats my challenge to myself.
I had been trying to work out what to do tonight… its rather symbolic, the last night of my 20s, surely I should be out there, wildly partying. Instead, I am rather contentedly reflecting, here in my cute little flat. I have had a gorgeous afternoon with my best friend watching an intense flamenco performance at the Opera House, followed by a cosmopolitan and thai noodles at circular quay. You don’t really get a better last day of your 20s than that, eh?