On the circle of life

This year I turn thirty, but it feels like I've been thirty for a while. Between all my twenty-something friends I keep reminding to respect their elders, and the larger circle of friends who all crossed this milestone years ago, I've been here for a while in my mind.

I don't mind getting old. In fact, I love it. As Maurice Sendack once said, "It is a blessing to get old. It is a blessing to find the time, to read the books, to listen to the music."

Like Maurice, I am in love with the world. I am blessed to have been born to the parents I was, who gave me every opportunity to excel not only in what I was good at, but what I loved. I am blessed I had a sister born ahead of me to take down the worst of the world's obstacles and send me back some pro survival tips. I am so fortunate that I was born in a country with good education, good healthcare, that embraced foreign students, that let us live free of persecution, that taught us how a community could live inclusively and compassionately.

I'm religious, so I call it a blessing. My non-religious friends call it luck. It is what it is -- and not everyone gets that chance.

I am grateful for every year that I've had with the family and friends I adore, because nobody knows how many years they have left. Every year is another measure of time in which to make this world a blessing for someone else. Every month is another opportunity to leave this world a little better than how we found it. Every day is a chance to make someone else's day just a little bit easier.

I love getting old. As a gamer, we call it "levelling up". As a writer, we call it "growing grey in wisdom".

The only prospect that makes me sad about ageing is having to gradually say goodbye to all the people I love. When I was younger, I selfishly asked my sister to die on the same day as me. Used to my influences from Gothic horror and Winnie the Pooh logic, she slanted a narrow look at me, "Er, no."

So, instead of trying to extract morbid death contracts from the people you love, just love them while you have them.

Listen to that friend who needs a sympathetic ear and a little tough love. Prop your colleagues up with your shoulder, and give them the chance to shoulder you one day, too. Take the time to sit with your grandmother, even if you're separated by a language barrier; there is no barrier to the love expressed by taking the time to just be someone's companion. Call your parents, don't make them call you first.

Tell people you care about them. Tell them every day, tell them creatively: nothing says "I care" like I'm sharing life's challenges with you, and I did these dishes all by myself.