“I’m not crying, you’re crying” as I sit at my desk, watching a video with tears in my eyes, about a dog that had been abused but given a second chance with a loving home.
I get that 28 isn’t old by any means. What I can tell you is that the older I get, the less headstrong and fool hearted I am. I feel like the Grinch after his heart grew some sizes. Things tug at the heartstrings much more easily, and I find myself giving back because I want to, not because I had to like when I was younger. My parents used to make my brother and I volunteer, and back then, I wanted to run around and do what I wanted. But as I get older, I find much more fulfillment in fulfilling others rather than myself.
Growing up, I was always outside, fishing, occasionally hunting and always on the move. I’ll never forget the feeling of killing my first deer. The thing made it all of three feet before it dropped over dead. I used to bow hunt until I hit a deer an inch or so too high, it went down, got up after 30 minutes and ran away. I went back the next day to track, only to never find it and I still feel terrible to this day. These days, I have no desire to kill things. I have no problem with people hunting in any capacity, I love venison and I understand the necessity to keep population down but I just can’t. Between the cold, the smell of dead deer and the Fudds and Uncle Jimbos in the forest, I’d rather trade my jerky making services in exchange for deer any day (which I do quite often because my jerky is damn good). I enjoy meat way too much to ever become a vegan, but I kind of get why people do.
Getting soft doesn’t just pertain to feelings. Back in the day, I could run all day, had 9% body fat, drink every day of the week and bounce back and work intense physical labor on 4-5 hours of sleep. Now, I’m a walking injury: everything cracks, aches or is sore the next day. Part of my elbow chipped off and floats around from an old hockey injury (I named it Archibald). I got drunk and was hungover for two days where all I did was eat fast food and play video games.
I remember the feeling of invincibility where I could drive as fast as I wanted or where I’d never have to worry about being sick. I played through any sports injury and I’d sometimes race in my 4 cylinder ’98 Honda Accord against my friends that had equally middle class beater cars. Now, I generally obey the speed limit within 10 MPH or so, rather than dodging in and out of traffic or doing 80+. It’s just not worth it and to be honest, I now give a bit of leeway to make sure I don’t have to like a good adult.
People often wish, hope and pray for good health. I never used to really understand that; my worldview was very narrow. I was generally in good health and there wasn’t anything I couldn’t bounce back from. As I got older, I saw cancer, disease and human error take away loved ones. My own father passing was a reminder that life is short and can be gone in a second. Losing an immediate family member fundamentally changes you in a way you wish others could understand, but the only real way to understand is to go through it. My advice to those that haven’t is to always tell your loved ones that you do love them because you truly never know when your time is up.
Some people get it and some don’t. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more conscious of my own mortality. When I look at older pictures of Tank, it reminds me that dogs lives are short. He was already around five when we found him so his impending trip across the Rainbow Bridge is always not that far off my mind. Rather than let this consume me, I’ve learned to appreciate more and take less for granted. Even though I’m pretty against having my own kids, I still can’t help but make faces at children, while not looking like I own a windowless van filled with candy that I use to try to find my lost puppy. My often stoned freshman year roommate, STD (his initials not that he is a sexually transmitted disease) once told me, in a particularly high state, that, “Life is all about the adventure” and however small that seemed at the time, it is really quite resounding..
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