Palindrome: a word, line, verse, number, sentence, etc., reading the same backward as forward.
Eleven years ago was my last palindrome age so this post will be a reflection piece of where I was at 22, and the palindromic eleven-years in between.
It was 1999 (pre-iTunes, so Prince’s 1999 album had a good year) and by the end of it I was 22. Wow, I’m smiling now as I think back to myself back then. Not because it was an exceptional age, but rather it truly was the very last year of my life in which a full-bellied laugh was simple; depth was seen in every single particle; chasing ideas of love that had not yet materialized were immortalized through music and writing; passion held the key between you and me. Life was different for me then, but I was hell-bent on living this notion that happiness didn’t write books and being lonely was better than being miserable with disposable relationships. In fact, most everything was disposable then.
2000 and 23 came, I spent an exorbitant amount of time by myself. It’s pretty intense where the mind can take you if you let it, but fascinatingly enough (and once you get through usual symptoms like Agoraphobia) there’s a level of serene brilliance achieved. I wrote directly from the Holy Ghost that year. Learning was my drug, and theories like Astral Projection were my heroin. There was no better time than to discover my mind, but the soul would come later. At this time in that year I was unaware it would be my very last birthday where I had the freedom to allow my mind to go into those crevices completely unaware of heart and soul. I could push to the edge of the mind, expand it until it exploded, and float freely above cerebral debris. Then it happened, Law and Order was on one minute in my dark TV-illuminated apartment and the next minute my brother was a missing person. There’s just no way to experience the mind that freely when you’ve discovered heart through mortality. It’s too powerful and once you get to the edge in this state the infinite lure of immortality could push you over entirely.
I won’t make this a tear-jerker post about my brother, but I can’t help but think of him when I think back to this incredible 32nd year. So let me skip from 23-32 (you like that little palindromic trick I just did there?). I had made a resolution to shed skin, so I put away that novel I had been writing for the past ten or so years because it wasn’t going to, likely, ever be finished. I started an entirely new novel, unlike anything I had ever written (take that for what you want) and I finished it in seven months. In March of this past year, I had finished a novel – my first one. The Great American Novel, except it’s actually about a Canadian and probably not ‘great’ in terms of literature but it’s certainly a viable commercial fiction novel.
In a long-shot effort to get into a prestigious MBA program I applied to a university I had dreamed of attending but the barrier of entry was the GMAT and it’s just not in my DNA to score well on standardized tests. By the time I get comfortable with the space, set up, lighting, etc., the test time usually dwindled significantly and I spent the remainder of time frantically clock watching. I don’t do those types of tests, but I found a loophole and applied to get it waved. Somehow I convinced NYU that they needed me in their program sans GMAT scores. It worked, I applied and got accepted. The prosperity of my 32nd year didn’t end there. After years of being under-appreciated at work, I went out and got a better job. A better job that afforded me some material possessions (and finally a savings account to which I no longer live paycheck-to-paycheck) that I never had before, and while it doesn’t mean as much it means much more when you don’t have it.
For the first time in my life there wasn’t a struggle. I always knew there would be a season like this, hoped, but without all the struggle I know I wouldn’t be as grateful as I am for it. I wouldn’t be able to say I’m proud of myself. I wouldn’t be able to look around and see these wonderful people who regardless of where they’ve seen me in life feel I’m deserving of their love and I am. I’m not sure I knew that before. More importantly, I see them. There is an extreme joy in listening to someone speak their truth (even if your truths are different), understanding without judgment who someone is, and not giving up on people. 32 was a successful year for me, but in a few short hours I’ll be 33 and it’s going to be full of meaning. Less ‘me’ and more ‘you’ because I want more than anything to reach a level of connection that brings an incredible lightness of being that I can only get from others.
After all it was age that Jesus was crucified and Krishna died to repurchase the Karma of Humanity. In his Divine Comedy, Dante attributed 33 songs to the Purgatory and 33 songs to the Sky. It’s the number of days of the “intellectual” cycle in the biorhythm. 1933 was the year prohibition ended. Virginia Woolf didn’t publish her first novel “The Voyage Out” until she was 33. In Numerology, 33 is the highest of the “Master Numbers” as it symbolizes the ultimate attainment of consciousness.
So goodbye 32, you were good to me. Let’s do this, 33.