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It’s odd to be 30.

A person always seems to think they’ll have it all worked out by the commencement of the next year, or decade, but the elusive year remains evasive still. More searching. More trial. More error.

Wednesdays we have a workshare crew of three recent college grads. Spending four hours with them in the morning clarified the realization that I’m no longer in that space. Not even close. I asked the first one a question along the lines of, “Are you in existential crisis mode yet?”

The immediate answer – yes. No bones about it. But they wear it well; with all the enthusiasm, vigor and idealism of the young, travelled and educated. Passion for chemistry. Passion for yoga. Passion for adventure. Passion for soil. Passion, passion, passion.

It was quite the dose of refreshment, really. At lunch, they discussed their friend’s cross-country bike tour plans, their canoe trip plans, and their rock climbing plans. Not so much for future plans, but good ones nonetheless.

I reminisced silently, wondering how I’d inhabited that space years ago. I thought back to the study abroad trip where I’d discovered my wife, and the east coast farming trip where we discovered our love. It was a youth well-spent, I’d say.

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After lunch, none having any immediate plans, they went to the river for a dip, while David and I got back to work. I wondered about the novelty of no afternoon plans. In this age, where all my moments are judiciously accounted for between work, farm and family, I couldn’t really remember any carefree planless afternoons.

Which is very much okay. I love the life I’m building with my family. All the time it takes. This is 30, I guess.

But I’ve lost what the youth possess naturally – their cagey fidelity to the fluidity and fallibility of it all. Beginnings and endings always. Ends of semesters. Beginnings of years. Ends of vacations. Beginnings of exams. Ends of college careers. Prepare all you will, they realize, there’s no kind or gentle transition time. On to the next.

So it remains. The radiant glow of warm and endless days; the shrill cruelty of nights cold and forlorn, coupled seamlessly and intimately. The lurking possibility of shattering beneath a single fragment of speech – relegated to a frozen little ball of dread in the span of two syllables.

So I must learn again. To Be in those warm moments, when they choose to bless me with their countenance. To explore the warmth and relish in it. And when the dreadful aloneness catapults me through the endless night — towards the far horizon of a featureless dawn — to be there too, close to earth. To nestle in the tiny warmth of my own body heat, stir no more, and wait for a new day’s warmth, to grow anew.

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