Y'know, it's funny. Everyone tells me that I'm not old. And I guess when you look at is in the sense that the planet is billions of years old, or that my grandmother is 93, I guess I'm not really aged. But next week I will be crossing into my mid-thirties, and old or not, it's damn weird. It's kind of an age where you'd think (or at least hope) that you would have something to show for 34 years of life.
These days, perhaps surviving is enough. When you're not overly concerned about having a family or being filthy rich, the idea of accomplishment changes. Suddenly, it is in the eye of the beholder. Sure, it's cool bar talk to tell people that you climbed a big mountain or went skydiving or that thing where you swim with Great White Sharks, but is that really what one might call an accomplishment? Personally, I'd like to have a published comic one day, but that might not mean diddly to someone who made a million dollars and has five children. But some people still compliment me on the Secret Monkey, and that was almost a decade ago and it never made a dime. It was fun, sure, but I guess I had higher hopes.
Further cause for introspection was my Ten-Year Service Recognition Luncheon at BU the other day. Ten years at one job is pretty big these days, I think, and I continue to wrestle with the fact that I either found something I was good at and enjoyed enough to stick with it, or I just was too chicken to look for something better. I guess the good thing is I was never fired or let go, so there is something to be said for longevity.
It really all comes down to the question, "What do you want on your tombstone?" In the end, I'd rather be remembered for my deeds than my accomplishments. My job may be to help the faculty and staff of CGS, and so I suppose indirectly I have I have contributed to the education of thousands of students over the years, but that's not really something for my eulogy. I'd rather it be that I was fun to be around, willing to help out, hard-working, a good drinking buddy, maybe a bit too honest at times, etc. I'd rather be remembered for stuff like that than inventing a longer-lasting light bulb. Maybe at one time, that was the goal, but one benefit of being mid-thirties is some perspective.
Maybe gaining a little perspective is an accomplishment, after all.