It’s chilly but sunny on 3/10; the day I turn 30 years old, an age that once seemed as distant as Mars. But here it is, all up in my grill, and after a year of dithering about the looming decade, I’m pleased to see that I haven’t vanished in a puff of smoke and there is indeed life after 30 after all.
We’re driving through The Burren in Co. Clare and the landscape is surreal – rolling hills covered with a baffling mosaic of ashen grey rocks. Tufts of grass poke through at intervals, like fists clawing for air. It’s an alien world, a black-and-white photo of the red planet; a bizarre stepping stone to our destination. The year I turned 29, I created a new birthday tradition – taking inspiring day-trips. Last year, I soaked in an onsen, blanketed by sakura. This year, I climb the Cliffs of Moher.
The cliffs are jagged, corrugated by rough strata, unperturbed by the blue waves crashing at their base, hundreds of meters below. Joy, Diego, and I climb over the sign that reads: “Please do not go beyond this point” and join the other idiots daredevils marching along the edges of the cliffs, ignoring the sheer death drop below. A salty breeze ruffles my hair and all around the air is pure. I stand at the edge and look forward; not at what I don’t have, but what I do, and what I have done.
At age 30, I have – so far – lived in four countries and traveled to 20.
I’ve spoken four languages.
I’ve loved and been loved; maybe more than I deserved.
I’ve sky-dived; climbed an active volcano; dangled over cliffs; white-water rafted; rowed; spelunked; hiked through Thai and Guatemalan jungles; ridden horses; sailed; flown; been attacked by a dog.
I’ve rejected everything I was born into; reached for dreams I made myself.
I’ve achieved two life goals; finally reaching now for the remaining two.
I’ve moved – twice – to places where I knew no one.
I’ve cheated medical odds.
I’ve never smoked a cigarette.
I’ve stood, naked, at an onsen, underneath frosty white cherry blossom trees.
I’ve had Jägermeister thrown in my eye.
I’ve renovated a studio.
I’ve juggled five jobs to pay the rent.
I’ve been pickpocketed and robbed.
I’ve made mistakes.
I’ve done things that scared me.
I’ve used my English degree.
To the future.