As milestone birthdays go, turning 38 scarcely qualifies. And yet, as I found myself approaching that signpost a few weeks ago, I began to find more significance than I had anticipated. Turning 38 means two decades since the spring I graduated high school, and the fall I started college. I was 18 all those years ago, when Chumbawumba and Sugar Ray were on the radio, boy bands were still (mercifully) a few years off, and I looked at the future much like the “fresh, green breast of the new world,” which F. Scott Fitzgerald called it.
Now, with the eyes of a not-so-young man, I look upon the intervening years with more than a measure of perspective. It seems so simple in retrospect to pick out the the paths which I have hewn through the dense vegetation of the years, to measure that distance in miles and discern meaning in the big picture.
But what about the moments I spent in the midst of that forest, hacking my way through all that underbrush, machete in hand, sweat beading my forehead? Nothing seemed simple then. How can one find perspective when surrounded by the thick vegetation which comprises the daily stuff of life? I ponder this question, not just as a man looking back at where he has been, but as one looking around, looking forward, at the path ahead.