I know that today is a big day for our country. Inauguration Days always are. I’m not going to talk about that today because my guess is you can find coverage of that anywhere. Instead, I want to focus on the idea of milestones and rites of passage.
We all have memories, or maybe fears, of the milestones we lived through that marked the passage of time. These may have been birthdays, like the big one my daughter just celebrated (I will advise you to give her a wide berth if you see her driving on the road as she is as scared of you as you are of her.) These may be promotions at work. These can even be smaller events, like taking your puppy to get neutered. Yes. You probably need to re-read that sentence. I took my puppy in for his emasculation this morning. It is a rite of passage, of sorts. Little does he know, he will wake up this afternoon a different man.
As I think about the plentiful milestones in my own life, I am thankful to have made wonderful memories. I was blessed with a permanent family as a little boy. They gave me love, patience, and guidance. I am blessed with an understanding wife. She is stubborn (you’d have to be to put up with me) and patient; her love and compassion for me is more than I deserve. I am blessed with a wonderful, yet ornery teenager. She is spreading her wings and inspires me every day with her budding sense of the mark she will leave on the world. I am blessed with a good job amongst great colleagues and friends. I am blessed with (pretty) good health and a mind that hasn’t gone mad just yet. In all, I have been blessed by our Lord with many things to be thankful for in this life; things I know I have through His grace because I surely didn’t earn them all.
So, these milestones, these rites of passage, are the amazing markers of humanity. We not only have memories, all sentient beings have that, we have the ability to reflect on the years that have passed and what that means to each of us. This may be the greatest gift from God. We have been endowed with the ability to think about where we’ve come from in life and where we want to go. We can change our course if we are so compelled. We can atone for past transgressions. We can build on our experiences to truly better our own lives and the lives of those around us.
Not everyone enjoys aging. Perhaps, there are good psychological reasons for this. Perhaps, this is nothing more than an indication of our own mortality. I happen to enjoy getting older. I wouldn’t want to go back to the younger me and correct my mistakes (and there have been quite a few, some that I will be forever indebted to repay). Those mistakes and lessons were part of the journey I took to get where I am. I can’t say where I’m going because I don’t know. I’ve never been the sort of person to mentally map out where I will be in “X” amount of years. Still, I am thankful for the milestones and rites of passage. They continue to shape me in ways that continue to amaze me.
I’m in my early 40s. I thought, foolishly, when I hit the big four-zero that I had reached some marker where I didn’t need to continue to invest in my own personal growth. This led me to falling backwards. It was hard on my family and it was hard on me. Fortunately, that loving wife I mentioned earlier helped me snap out of the vicious spiral. I reinvested in myself. That gave me the energy and focus to reinvest in my family. I always loved them. I always tried to be a good person. I fell short of what they needed at times. This was part of my rite of passage from being a man to being the man I wanted to be.
Putting all of this in context, I encourage everyone to embrace the milestones and rites of passage. I encourage you to embrace getting older because it means you’re getting more experiences under your belt. These experiences can help you continue to refine the person you are. At least, that’s what I try to take from my milestones and rites of passage. As always, this has been the World According to Chris.
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