Before today, I had never been 30 years old. While this event is momentous for most people, for me it is equivalent to diving out of an airplane. As anyone who knows me would tell you, the idea of getting older scares the hell out of me. So much so that I've spent to better part of the last decade doing everything possible to ignore the fact that I was getting older. I refused to acknowledge the grey hairs starting to speckle my head and overlooked the subtle lines that began to appear in my face. I turned a blind eye the fact that my metabolism slowed from a sprint to a labored jog and dismissed the fact that hangovers went from an hour long affair to using sick time two days later. To me, I was 21 and holding, and nothing could convince me otherwise. Sure, underneath it all I was fully aware of the unending trek toward my birthday each year, but I chose not to recognize its arrival. In my mind doing so was akin to admitting defeat, admitting that father time was running me through the wringer, and admitting that I knew full well there was nothing I could do about it. Each time the calendar turned over, I remembered being younger and thinking about what it would be like to be 22... to be 26... to be 28. I remembered wondering how strange it would feel. At that time, 30 was a huge deal to me. In my young mind I knew, without a doubt, when I got there I would officially be "old", and that was a label I never wanted to wear.
Obviously, my views changed as I got older. I started to do much the opposite of my younger self, choosing instead to annually compile a mental list of how being 22... being 26... being 28 was no different than 21. I felt the same. I looked the same, more or less. Everything was the same, right? Now, some people would (accurately) call this a perpetual state of denial, but I was OK with my ignorance and OK with putting off the idea of getting older until I couldn't anymore. I was fully prepared to do the same thing with 30, but the closer it came to being a reality the more I started to question my line of thought.
After some enduring encouragement from my beautiful girlfriend, Rachael, my loving family, and some close friends, I decided it would be good for me to come to terms with the idea of 30 by celebrating its arrival. I decided I would face turning 30 head on and do everything in my power to say, "You know what? 30... yeah... whatever." Although challenging at first, the closer I came to my 30th birthday party, the more I came to terms with the idea of starting my fourth decade on the planet. In turn, the more comfortable I became with the thought of 30 the more I started to question my perspective on age and getting older.
As a result, I started to look at all of the things that occurred over the past decade of my life. I thought back to the uncertain times, the joyous times, and the revelrous times. I thought about all of the things I had accomplished and how lucky I was, but I also began to question how many things I had missed out on by refusing to accept the fact I was getting older. Thinking of time as a river, I realized my approach had been to close my eyes as tight as possible, plug my ears, and do everything I could to convince myself the water wasn't flowing and that the scenery wasn't changing. In doing so, I began to think of all of the sights and sounds I must have missed by directing my focus to avoiding them completely. I began to realize my perspective on getting older did everything possible to ignore the time I have instead of making the most of it. From this, I drew one conclusion: "Not cool, Caleb. Not cool..."
Following this realization, I started thinking about what I could do to make the most of the next year. Having recently completed an undergraduate degree in Finance, 2013 started slowly and I had a lot more free time. As birthday plans started to create my shifting perspective, I began trying new things and going new places. I spent some time exploring Hawaii with amazing people, tried some new restaurants in town, sprang at the opportunity to make maple syrup as Spring approached, and I generally kept an open mind about whatever came my way. I was doing new things, and it felt great. It was during this period that it dawned on me... I could do this everyday if I put my mind to it.
With a few weeks left before my birthday celebration, I started compiling a list of things I have never done. The list started small, but began to grow quickly as I began to recognize the routines I had grown accustomed to in my day-to-day life. I started talking to people about things they have never tried, learned, seen, experienced, or done in their lives, and I kept writing down ideas. After getting the big, once-in-a-lifetime ideas on paper, I started thinking about things I could do in my everyday life to break the mold I had formed around myself and really, really make the most of my time. Before I knew it, my list contained more than 425 things. Knowing it was possible, I took a look at my list and wrote one line at the top:
"Do something you have never done everyday for a year."
So, that brings me to today, to this blog, and to the next 365 days. To make the most of my 30th year, I intend to do something I have never done everyday, and to post a photo of my daily "I have never..." on this blog. I realize it will be difficult, and I know it may not happen. However, I know it is possible, and I know if I can make it happen I will be able to learn so much, to grow as a person, and maybe come to terms with getting older. I will undoubtedly need encouragement, accomplices, and ideas to make it work, but I also know I have some of the greatest people in my life to accompany me on the journey. I intend to do one or two big events a month and little things every other day, and I must follow the strict rule that each event must be something I have never seen, learned, tried, or experienced in my life.
It's going to be a crazy ride, but I'm ready to make the most of my time. Here's to the next year!