Today I turn 26 and I’ve been thinking about the significance of this for sometime.
You cross over from the pure mid-twenties to the progressive mid-twenties. Excitement is decreased from your days of intense birthday celebration and recognition. You don’t feel the overwhelming desire to tell everyone, strangers and friends alike, that “IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!!!” This is slightly sad. I fully recognize this. If only I had less to do in a day, perhaps I would be more oriented to give ‘er big river and celebrate and promote my big day.
As I continued to ponder the calming effect of the twenties I started to think about each year and the significance that it holds.
21, is obviously a milestone.
22, has lovely repetition for the OCD inclined.
23, starts to sound mature.
24, implies the beginning of wisdom, the beginning of careers.
25, takes you to a quarter century. It’s a big deal.
But 26? What special value does it have? It is just an awkward number.
Which led me to think about the ultimate awkward age. 13. I know this not just because I have lived it, but because I have taught those funky smelling, hormone oozing, truth machines. It is when you cross from childhood to teenage-hood. From innocence to insolence. From hope to despair. Oh the drama, oh the pain of being 13! The 13 year old is, without a doubt, universally confused.
Now I’m going to shock you all and do some math. What is 13 times 2?
Herein, we find significance. At 26 you have lived twice as long as when you were 13. Your time on earth has doubled since then. You can look back at 13 and say ‘that was a lifetime ago’ and really mean it. This in and of itself is a great accomplishment.
Yet, 26 has the potential to be equally awkward. 26 can mean no direction and little stability. 26 can mean forgetting that you discovered who you are, whether that was at 16 or 23. 26 is just old enough to be cynical and unimpressed by what the world has to offer.
But, I will go out on my theoretical limb here and say that 26 is going to be quite wonderful. I feel within me the wonder and awe that I am really an adult. Yet, it is that wonder and awe itself that gives me hope that I can live with the faith of a child, trusting in the uncertainty of what is to come. Trusting that what is around the corner next will surprise and delight me. I know this because time and time again this has proven to be true in the 26 years that have held me here on this earth.
I feel that this job, this vocation of Teacher-Chaplain is my gift to my students and my school.
I feel that my vocation with Robbie in marriage has been so fruitful in the last 3 and a half years, even without the blessing of children.
I feel that my gifts are being used like never before with such authority and power that I know it does not come from me.
I feel that without a doubt, my friends and my family love me as unconditionally as is humanly possible.
The truth is that I love to derive meaning from my current state in life, no matter the circumstance. Whether I’m turning 26 or 34 or 42, I hope I can look at that number every year as October 17th approaches and say, “Alright Laura. Where is the meaning in this one?” and then find it.
And find it I will.