It is with the coming of 2017 that I will be turning 30. To be frank, I'm not 30 for another four months. But to be Adam, I wanted to start making myself feel good about this because that list of "30 Things I Will Do Before 30" I wrote is getting out of reach.
Plus, there are so many lists out there of things like "30 things you must do before you turn 30" or "30 things everyone must do before they die" or "Adam's list of chores he's neglected for far too long," but I haven't seen a list of things that are actually already done. You know, something to show people not what they should accomplish, but what can actually be accomplished.
So given all that, and a bag of potato chips, here's a list of the 30 things I actually did do before I turned 30, minus the potato chips.
1. I went to Israel on Birthright, which was a right since my birth.
2. I had an Amazing Appendectomy Adventure when I had to evict my appendix for being overdue on its payments.
3. My girlfriend and I bought a barrel from our favorite brewery and treat him like he is our son. His name is Darrel.
4. I graduated from the University of Iowa in only five (technically four and a half) years. I still have nightmares that it never actually happened.
5. I acquired a taste for beer. Before then, I literally couldn't taste beer, which was terribly unpleasing.
6. I've fully embraced my introversion, finally understanding that I'm not shy, I'd just rather not be around other people.
7. I learned how to solve a Rubik's Cube. In under two minutes. Ladies.
8. I have discovered and embraced what makes me laugh more genuinely than almost anything else in all of media, Mystery Science Theater 3000.
9. I celebrated my first Christmas! Well, I mean legitimately!
11. Literally fell in love. (It's a skydiving joke.)
12. I was a professional stand-up comedian for six months when I got payed $25 plus free drinks for the weekly 90-minute show I emceed.
13. Understood about myself that it's not that I'm procrastinating, I'm purposefully factoring in time in which I don't do anything.
14. In college, despite thinking I was never going to join a fraternity, I rushed AEPI. Though I wish I had taken my time.
15. Wrote, produced, directed and starred in my very own one-man show. Sure, it was for my family in our living room when I was a kid and there was only one performance but it still makes me a QUADRUPLE THREAT!!!
16. Saw some of my favorite comedians doing funny things. Namely George Carlin, Steve Martin and, most recently and importantly, Mel Brooks.
17. Discovered an undying passion for voice acting. And although I'm not doing it in the exact way I would have expected, for my current job I do in fact have to record my voice on a daily basis. Basically, as I referred to it once, it's like finding my Afikomen.
18. I've stuck firmly to my roots by continuing to eat SpaghettiOs on a fairly regular basis despite having the knowledge and means to actually make adult meals for myself.
19. Ran away from day camp at the ripe old age of 10 to help solidify my understanding that I will always have trouble with, in adult terms -- management. In kid terms, being told what to do.
20. In college wrote around two dozen short stories and plays. Some of them were almost good.
21. Had the greatest bar mitzvah ever because there was horse racing at it and I'm going to leave it up to you if it was real horses or just wooden ones.
22. Discovered that, no matter how down I'm feeling, for some reason listing to Monty Python's "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" can cheer me up. That's why I want it played at my funeral in 1,987 years.
23. Did my version of traveling abroad by spending a semester in Disneyworld doing their college program. There's no joke here. It was just awesome.
24. Once watched Spaceballs 13 times in six days. Yes, it's an important accomplishment since I still bring it up today, like in that previous sentence. Also, Mel Brooks.
25. Moved out of my parents' house. It's been almost five years and I still haven't told them.
26. Was, and still am, the only person I know to have celebrated being alive for 10,000 days.
27. Discovered a way to accurately defend videogames being just as meaningful and important to me as books.
28. Experienced six Bulls Championships, three Blackhawks Stanley Cup Championships and I still can't believe I am saying this, one Chicago Cubs World Series Championship. I only shed tears during one of these -- 108 years' worth of tears.
29. I've memorized my favorite childhood book. It was a Golden Book called My Pop-Up Zoo where most of the animals don't pop up anymore. And I will gladly read it to you anywhere at any time and the book doesn't even have to be there.
30. Wrote, by my last count, about 50 different articles for Oy!Chicago in just under five years (check 'em out).
A lot of these had jokes, but they all stemmed from real things that have happened in my life. Goals I've achieved, life experiences I've had, personal revelations or memorable and important moments in my life. As I've gotten older, time annoyingly seems like more of a luxury. I tend to purposefully get little sleep because there's so much I want to do and it never feels like there's enough time to do it. In fact, I like to joke that I'll sleep when I'm dead, but it's not the same because I tend to sleep face down and that'd be an outlandish way to put a person in a casket.
With time moving the way it does -- forward, as it were -- I have grown to understand that time is one thing I will never have enough of; the time I get is the time I get.
Last year, around my 29th birthday (my 29-hour 29th birthday, as it were), I had a revelation of sorts. My girlfriend and I were going on a vacation to Hawaii. We had eight days to schedule, and we tend to pack our trips chock-full of activities every single day. (Chock-full is a term which I only recently learned does NOT mean "full of chocolate.")
So my anxiety started to creep up when I realized there was so much more that we wanted to do than we actually had time to do. I focused on that so much that the idea of going to Hawaii and not doing everything began to eat at my core. But at that core, it turns out, there are seeds, seeds of hope -- and thought reversal. Then I thought about all the wonderful things we were going to be able to do: Snorkeling, attending a luau, zip lining, parasailing and hiking through a dormant volcano, just to name a few.
This simple thought has helped me look positively at a lot of what I have experienced these past almost 30 years and what I will experience these upcoming I-sincerely-hope-will-be-more-than 30 years. It lets me look back at my life up until this point and not regret what I haven't done but look fondly on all the wonderful things I have taken advantage of. And I plan to continue to do this going forward, because it's unequivocally better to remember all of the good things than dwell on the things that never were.