Carrousel

Yes, the spelling is intentional.

In the film Logan’s Run, every person in society gets to live to the ripe old age of 30. On their final day of life (cleverly referred to as ‘Lastday’) they enter the ritual of Carrousel and, with the promise of being reborn, are vaporized. Pretty grim, right?

Now, I know that my life should play out a little differently than that as there is no Carrousel ritual in the UK (although if Iain Duncan Smith could find a way to make it happen and monetize it, I bet he would), but I’m 29 and a half years old (at this point, the half matters). For me, the Big Three-Oh is approaching and it has already arrived for a number of my friends and loved ones. And although I don’t have a flashing red lifeclock in my palm (not yet anyway), it feels like this birthday will be a little bit different.

I have this theory that there are several milestone birthdays. These are (in no particular order except chronological) 18, 21, 25, 30, 40 and every ten years after that (people argue that 25 shouldn’t be included but it’s a quarter century, so it stays in). Now here we are and 25 was four and a half years ago, passing with little fanfare or excitement. Saying that, I did go to Amsterdam for my 25th birthday… on my own. It was a fantastic city to visit, but when you’re there on your own everyone looks at you like you’re some kind of filthy sex tourist. So don’t do that (unless you ARE a sex tourist, in which case go for it). I digress.

It’s the the final months of my twenties and I have the fear that the allocation of a new numerical value will change me somehow. I don’t think that I’ve seen any real change in people that I know who’ve already hit 30, but I’m concerned that it’s a more personal change. Something about the way you think or the way that you’re perceived once you’re out of your twenties.

Maybe the worry is present because I’m leaving my twenties and I haven’t really done many of the things that other people have done by this point on their personal calendar. I didn’t do a lot of drunken, hedonistic partying. I didn’t finish university (with more of the associated partying). I didn’t take a grand world tour or see parts of the world that took me far from my comfort zone.

But is that really missing out?

I made a web series and a comedy feature film with some of my best friends. I’ve written stories and scripts and acted in front of my peers. I met the woman of my dreams and she agreed to marry me (despite how many opportunities I’ve given her to change her mind). These are not small achievements.

Are any of the things that I’ve missed better than any of the things that I’ve done? They’re different, but they’re not better. In fact, had I done the things I mentioned, I may not be where I am now. I definitely wouldn’t be who I am.

Perhaps I don’t have to approach this milestone birthday with apprehension or fear. Maybe I’m going into my thirties with a set of experiences that differ wildly from some of my peers. Maybe that will make me a better person than I otherwise would have been. Maybe the change in personality or perception will be a good thing. I don’t think I ever thought of it that way. It could be that the change is brought on not by age, but by experiences. I think that’s the way I need to look at it from now on.

Someone far more clever than I am probably said it first, but I think I have a new mantra starting with this birthday: I’m not getting older. I’m levelling up.

5 Comments

  1. I’m past the big three-oh and life goes on. I peaked early and then totally failed to live up to my potential. I haven’t stretched myself physically, mentally or emotionally in years. I have no major accomplishments of which to be proud. I work a low-paid, dead-end job that leaves me feeling constantly tired yet under stimulated. I am too selfish/lazy/emotionally stunted to form a lasting relationship, so no wedding bells for me.

    The worst thing is when people inevitably chime in with trite comments such as “there are plenty of people in the world who have it far worse than you”. I would never dispute that fact, but I am also reasonably certain that my unhappiness with my personal circumstances and the plights of those more unfortunate than me can in fact operate at a level of mutual exclusivity.

    30 is an arbitrary number, a meaningless age, it is only through our perception of linear time and a sense of our own mortality that we place emphasis on these “milestone” birthdays. With the provision that we don’t spontaneously combust or get hit by a bus or attacked my mutated bears or meet some other ignominious end, we still have time to set and achieve our goals.

    Some days I think vaporisation in the carrousel would be a mercy. Other days I grab life by the balls and realise that I am not stupid. I have likely reached my nadir and that from here, as floppy-haired, D:ream keyboard-playing, science-boffin Proffessor Brian Cox might say, “things can only get better”.

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  2. I remember when I was about to turn 30… You worry and fret about what you have done in your life.
    You’ve achieved more than most people; you work for one of the biggest companies in the world, you have made shows and even a freaking movie… Plus you are just about to settle down.
    I think levelling up is the right phrase…age is just a number. I’m 33 going on 19 😉

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  3. Interesting thoughts as always Dave.

    Personally thinking back I don’t recall being as apprehensive about thirty as I now am about thirty five. I suspect though that this represents my feelings about my life as a whole. Turning thirty I had not long started a new job and had other things going on. Approaching thirty five I feel trapped in the same job and prey to other anxieties about health and what not. Still, I will say the last five years have been better than the entire preceding decade.

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