Today is my 37th birthday. Or at least that's what Facebook would have me believe. Over 125 birthday well-wishes thus far, so I guess I'll face the facts: I'm middle-aged.
Thirty-seven. Three years away from 40. Thirteen away from fifty. Twenty-three away from sixty. As my grandfather used to say, "Lord, where does the time go?"
When I was a kid, I figured I'd be an astronaut by now. Then I learned that astronauts had to be good at math, so that dream died a horrific death. Next up was cowboy; but you have to be good with guns and enjoy camping out a lot for that gig. So I moved on: fighter pilot (poor eyesight); superhero (too skinny); super villain (too risk-averse); actor (too much in love in with not starving to death).
Eventually, I settled on writer. Naturally, I settled on that about 15 years too late. But better late than never, right? And this year is shaping up to be my best yet as a professional writer - I'm already near the half-way mark for highest annual earnings, and it's not even February yet. Plus, people are actually liking what I'm writing and asking me to write for them again. How cool is that?
Thirty-seven has also brought family into focus. Never would I have imagined myself as a husband; the idea of a woman allowing me to sleep next to her for the rest of her natural life was a idea so far removed from reality that I filed it next to "Government Proposals That Make Sense" in the Snowball's Chance department. But I met Rachel and life wonderfully changed. She wished me a happy birthday this morning, and I quite honestly pointed out that everyday she's been with me has been happy - just because she's there. That's a nice feeling.
Marriage has led to family, and if you've read even a couple of my other blogs, you know fatherhood doesn't exactly come naturally to me. But Ella and Jon make my life so worth living that other things pale in comparison (even if my son is currently hitting me in the head with a foam bat while whispering, "I want you to throw me the ball!"). Each day has its share of challenge and reward, and while I might collapse into bed exhausted, it's definitely worth it.
Recently, the youth of my church threw a benefit concert in honor of my family to help with our medical expenses. Over 200 people came. The youth completely organized the event from start to finish (with special help from my brother, Ryan Brooks, whom I love dearly) and pulled off a great evening. It's humbling and challenging to know that so many people love you like that. It's like having your funeral before you die; you get to see how much your life mattered. And now, I get to go out and make it count even more.
That's a gift.
So another year has gone by. One more page turned in the calendar, one more chapter in the proverbial story of my life complete. I feel like I'm just getting to the good stuff; and while there will be many challenges ahead (braces, first dates, proms, weddings, incontinence), there will be plenty of reward too. And God willing, I'll get to go through it all being who I'm meant to be, loving whom I love the most, doing my part to make the world a little better than it was yesterday.
Like I said: a gift.
Happy birthday to me. On to thirty-eight.