Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Revolutionize. Play. Create. {repeat}

I’ve lived 30 years.

Not sure why, but something about that sounds…seasoned. As in, I’ve seen 30 years of gnarly shit and I can learn ya somethin’. Or, gather ‘round my creaky rocking chair while I knit socks and spin tales from a bygone era.

I was a wee miss living on a farm in Tennessee and I helped my mother train a Jersey cow to be a milker…when I wasn’t tending my flock of chickens.
There was a time when a blizzard (the worst in 50 years) knocked out power in the New Mexican Sacramento Mountains and we lived for something like 45 days off the light of oil lamps, the heat from a woodstove, and maintained sanity by putting together Jigsaw puzzles.

On a bitter cold day in the dead of winter, I took pictures of a bull’s swollen gonads and sent them via text message to my mom: “WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH HIM?!”

I feel comfortable saying I’m entering my third decade with a concrete amount of animal reproductive knowledge (consistent denominator: foreplay), a fair dose of animal and human first aid (pressure first, exam later), a bit of heavy-equipment operation (move all gears and throttles SLOWLY), no sense of direction (“Mom, I’m on the road to Chicago…am I supposed to be in Memphis?”), a healthy amount of survival skills (if push ever came to shove and I had to, you know, live outside for upwards of 24 hours), enough stories to write a book (oh…wait…), and just a few bits of advice for the wee-babes still swaddled in the innocence of their 20s.

I said: a few. Don’t get your hopes up for the 30 Pieces of Advice from Holly, or the 30 Things Holly Thinks You Should Know, or Here’s the 30 Things I Learned From Birth (which I don’t even remember) to Now. No. None of that.

In all honesty, your twenties can be a real bitch. Mine had their moments. I mean, there were glamor shots and celebrations, but every victory seemed to be precluded by a shit-ton of effort, and at the risk of sounding cliché, there’s so much discovery that goes into being a 20-something. You know what I mean. (Code for: I’m not spelling out all the awkward moments of self-discovery that bereft you in your 20s, because you’re probably tracking with me, right? And if not, you’re probably 19).

But I digress.

Bit of Advice #1: It’s not about how many friends you have, it’s about having ones you can call after you’ve decided to put your best-loved family dog to sleep and you need someone to tell you you’re making the right choice while you’re sitting on the toilet crying snotty sobs, and have a friend who stays with you on the phone while he dies.

I implore you to have your ‘voice of reason’ friends – the ones who will talk you off your crazy ledge and convince you that, no, in fact you don’t need ANOTHER dog from the pound, and yes, sign up for another round of eHarmony, because you deserve to get excited about emails in your inbox from strangers who you’ll probably never meet in person.

You need at least one or two friends who are dirtier-mouthed than you, and who laugh at you when you say the “f” word (“Every time you say it, I just laugh”). Have friends who will never hear you curse. Ever.

You need friends to dance Cupid’s Shuffle with approximately one million times, friends who get just as excited as you do over your handmade bookcases and quilts, and a friend or two who makes fun of you.

Please have a friend who challenges you. It wouldn’t hurt if they all did. They should challenge your beliefs, your way of thinking, your sensibilities. Let them push you to be a better person, to take a few chances, to say yes when (maybe) you should say no, and, at all costs, to move forward, but if you need to cry over a glass of wine first, that’s OK.

Have friends who are a bit ahead of you in their life-journey (they can help light the way), and a few friends who are a bit behind you.

Let them teach you how to resolve conflicts and how to stay friends when miles, transitions, careers, families separate you.

Be the kind of friend who goes running to your friend's side in the middle of the night (it's gonna happen), and who volunteers to whoop some ass on behalf of your girl-possee. Just. Be an awesome friend.
Love your family ferociously. So much that it hurts. Be true to yourself.

Bit of Advice #2: Educate yourself. Maybe college isn’t your thing. That’s cool. But never stop learning.
Read books. Real books. From a library.

If you’re curious about something, research it, answer your own questions, don’t rely on some other brainiac to give you the deets. Be nerdy. And if you do graduate from college with a couple degrees, buy yourself a gigantic dictionary. Never stop learning.

Learn about your heart, too. Ask yourself the tough questions and love yourself enough to answer honestly. Get a therapist. Your insurance should pay for one and if it doesn’t, you can work it in your budget. I’m doing it.

Learn how to be healthy and learn what your body needs. Remember to take care of yourself in all ways: physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually, sleepually, sportsually.
Bit of Advice #3: Get the hell up outta yo momma’s crib. Just don’t ever say you won’t be back. And if you do go back (for whatever reason that’s unknown to you when you leave college all giddy and fresh-faced), know it’s probably one of your better hook-ups. I’m not gonna say you get free cable and shit, but there are perks.

First, though, live on your own. Set up your own house or apartment or cardboard box. Realize that streaming YouTube videos 24/7 actually costs something, and that your cell phone is not a basic human right. It’s frickin’ expensive as hell and guess who has to pay for it now?

I don’t care if it’s by the skin of your teeth, learn to be independent. Cook extravagant dinners for one, figure out how to put the electricity in your name, and when the budget doesn’t allow for cable, bunny ears, or a DVD player, be perfectly content scouring the junk stores for used VHS tapes.

Bit of advice #4: Explore everything. Visit a random middle-of-nowhere-town in a rainstorm. Go somewhere just to say, “Oh yeah, I’ve been there,” or “So there was this one time, I went…” Find your dream house, and then make an appointment with the realtor just to dance circles in the living room and pretend that it’s yours. Check up on it regularly to make sure it hasn’t sold (it’s totally waiting for you).

Explore faith and religion. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid of the answers.

Leave your hometown, your county, your state. See what the sun looks like when it sets over the Texas landscape, and smell a New Mexican thunder storm. Swim in as many bodies of water as possible and whisper to yourself, “You’re in the Caribeean Sea off the coast of Haiti,” or “This is your favorite lake, this Kentucky Lake.”

Travel the world. Chase an adventure. Go somewhere alone. Spend the night in an African airport. Don’t be afraid of people who speak a different language. Participate in broken-English conversations. Get lost…repeatedly.

Make spontaneous plans. Do them. Leave your camera at home once. Train your mind to capture the memories: the sights, the sounds, smells, what you were wearing, what the moon looked like.
Do things just to say you did.

Explore relationships. Don’t rush. Buck societal traditions; it’s liberating to be 30 and single. Follow your journey.

For all their grueling, sometimes sadistic, mostly necessary, and always lesson-worthy twists, turns, bumps, hallelujahs and let’s-get-the-good-times-rolling, my 20s were made to remember from the perch of my 30s where I’m told life “kinda evens out,” and “you have a better handle on where you’re going and how you’re getting there.” That could be a bunch of horsepooey. We’ll see.

At any rate, I’m as thrilled as a BCS National Football champion to be turning 30. I.Am.So.Excited. For reals. I think I laid it all on the line in my 20s, and my only expectation for this new decade is that I live it as fiercely and as scaredshitlessly as I did the previous.
“We are too young to realize that certain things are impossible... So we will do them anyway.” ― William Wilberforce

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