I’m 49 today, which is an announcement that feels like it should include some foreboding background music — the “big 5-0” looming in the near future.

I have to admit that the last few years have been especially tough on the mind, body, and soul.

It’s feels like aging took forever, but now things are starting to go south fast. Before, say 45, everything was progressing gradually. And then….bam…I aged a decade in like two years — pounds cling to my body no matter how many miles i run, lines forming on my face and neck, bags collected under my eyes, my like-a-rock sleep habits have transitioned into 3 a.m. anxiety alarms, I’m never without antacids, and I’m just kinda jaded and tired on, like, a cellular level.

Maybe it’s just me. Or, maybe it’s just this year.  What a f***ing year.

For about four years now, since I saw this TED talk and downloaded the 1-Scond Video app, I’ve been recording one second of my life every day. Every year on the day before my birthday, I have the app “mash” it and I upload it to YouTube.  (45th year, 46th year, 47th year).

Like everything in 2020 this year’s video — my 48th year — is screwed up because, I mean….2020, amiright?  Well, OK, it’s because I got a new phone and then the app didn’t transfer right and I was in danger of losing it all, so I just uploaded half the year and started anew on my new phone, figuring I could put the two videos together later. YouTube says nah, you can’t, so…I have two halves that make up the last year of life — from Sept. 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020 and March 31, 2020 to August 31, 2020.

It now seems entirely appropriate that it be that way because life before and after COVID-19 is markedly different.

Watching the first half of my birthday video makes me wistful and misty-eyed. Remember when kids had dances? Remember when there were sports? Remember when we could breathe fresh air through our mouths and noses all the time? Remember when grocery stores were open until 10 p.m.? Remember when you could get canning jars at Dollar General and bikes at Walmart?

It’s a whole new world now. Trump’s America. Are we great again yet? Is this great? I think it sucks and I’ll tell you so right to your face.

See, there’s one great thing about growing older. I know who I am, what I stand for, what I won’t stand for and I sure as hell know right from wrong and I promise you that I do not care what anyone thinks about that.  THAT I enjoy.

I used to joke that I couldn’t wait to be old because I could do or say whatever the hell I wanted to and nobody could do anything about it.  I think I’m there.

I’m still not sure it’s a fair trade for youthful energy and optimism, a hair-free chin, a wrinkle-free neck, and a good night’s sleep, but whatever, right? I mean, I’m true Gen X, we’re used to just taking what we can get and making the best of it.

I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. I’ll just be here, listening to Pearl Jam. 

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About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.

“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”