29 and on the cusp of prime.

Federation Square from the roof. One of the perks of the job.

My birthday has come and gone in a whirlwind of work.

It so happened that my birthday landed right in the middle of a 3 day work bender, where I have pulled 10+ hours every single day, doing nothing but physical labour. I have ended up pushing myself so hard, that I lost a kilogram of weight, and have had at least 1 Red Bull per day to keep going. On a more positive note though, I am sporting a surprising lack of bruises, a much darker tan and a lack of blisters …

So really, I got off pretty easy.

Waking up today, to a much more relaxed shift, I could feel the pins and needles coursing through my hands and feet, and spent an inordinately long time massaging them with a theragun into a workable state again.

As I sat there on my bed, displeased with the fact that, despite working so hard, my body clock chose to wake me up far too early, so that I was still running on 5 hours of sleep, just like the other two days, I thought about how I started my birthday.

It’s the been the main positive this year. Being kept so busy, that people raise eyebrows as to how I am still standing before them, with a wry smile and decent posture. I’ve pushed myself to massive extremes this year, mostly in a physical sense, because I will always try to ensure I work out at least thrice a week, to minimise injuries at the workplace and make my labour a bit less intensive.

Mentally, it’s bit a lot more up and down than I wanted. But again, if I am looking at things in a positive manner, then I suppose there is denying that I am a lot more capable, tougher and will-driven than a lot of other people.

In my small circle of friends, I don’t know really know of anyone who has quite tackled so much, with so many severe consequences to their future riding on the line. In many ways, my birthday has been so inconsequential in the grander scheme of problems that have assaulted me this year.

It couldn’t even be celebrated the way I wanted to, with a Halloween theme, a nice barbeque and all my friends around.

Too much has happened, most of it self-inflicted for me to really feel good about throwing a big party.

As it were, I had to attend this work event that I was a key part of on the night of the birthday anyway.

That has truly been the par for the course this year. A lot of wonderful things always tinged with a strong melancholy. A lot of brave smiles that is hiding the exhaustion and anger that is simmering underneath.

Exhaustion from work, life, love and drama … anger at it all, because that is the only emotion that can help me keep one foot ahead of the other.

I felt that primal rage yesterday, as I entered the 15th hour of work. My feet, sore, callused and aching, was kept moving lightly across the Melburnian concrete footpath by sheer will. I refused to let myself hobble or limp.

I could march forever, and I was going to do exactly that.

But as I marched from one event venue to the other, from the uneven cobblestones of Fed Square to the rich carpet of Crown Casino, I realised just how sad it was that I had grown older by a year, and yet I wasn’t really paying any attention to it.

My life had devolved into such an endless grind of work, so much so, that the classic milestone of a birthday seemed insignificant.

What happened to me …. it used to be such a special time for me to indulge in my own private event, something fun that I loved to plan and design.

Nerf gun shoot-outs, Halloween costumes, endless amount of candy and snacks, good barbeque, chill fun party games …. long chats about everything and nothing …

It’s been 4 years since I last held a party and there is something remotely tragic about that fact, like I can’t really indulge in my inner child anymore and just relish a day that is entirely centered around me.

It’s funny how nostalgic you become when its’ your birthday. You start reminiscing about earlier memories, thinking about which one was your favourite, which was the best way to celebrate a certain age and milestone. You miss the friends you’ve lost along the way and ponder about what might have been.

I suppose, even in the midst of all this selfish happiness, you always end-up with a bit of melancholia. It’s just natural to mourn the loss of youth.

Celebrating getting older, and being alive for another year seems like such a trivial concept, until you realise that so many people never got to where you are.

There are countless people out there, who never made it to 29 and are immortalised in their family for being forever 26, 22, 15, 7 or even 3.

They never got to survive and live 29 years on this planet.

I used to be more dismissive of my birthday. What was the big deal, I always said. It’s not hard to eat, breathe, drink and just continue on living. It’s really not much of an achievement.

But that was me being dismissive of my luck, my own choices and my health. Many people struggle with one of those three elements or all of them at once.

Some are just incredibly unlucky individuals who were involved in freak accidents that never let them see 29.

Others have made bad choices in life, whether it’d be work, friends, lovers or personal struggles … and took their own lives before hitting 25.

And a select few are just cursed with health problems that make hitting 18 a miracle in of itself.

The older I get, the more grateful I am for the choices, people and environments that I either unwittingly or willingly allowed to be a part of my life. Some of those choices have been tough beyond compare and it has been difficult to truly comprehend the magnitude in which they upended the axis of my orbit. But made them I did and I have to live with the consequences.

A lot of people will never know the impact they had on me, whether it be from a passing comment or insult to a heartfelt compliment. But I know who they are and what they mean to me and how they have improved me, regardless of how large or small their influence was at the time.

I just can’t forget some things, no matter how hard I try. The tears on a woman’s cheek, the sounds of the water rustling across sand, the way how my breath seems to catch whenever I think about something particularly painful ….

It is these melancholy feelings that dominate how I am feeling on my birthday.

Birthdays are meant to be a joyous occasion, but for the past few years, they’ve been nothing but gentle reminders of my past. I’m mourning the old me, but without any bitterness or guilt. There’s no point in adding either of those feelings onto my past, because if I do, I’ll never forgive myself and learn to let go.

I’ve let go of a lot things this year. It’s almost like I am trying to prepare for my 30s in the cleanest way possible.

29 … the final year for me to really get my act together before I can finally put to rest the strangest challenge I’ve ever made for myself, the B30 Challenge.

There is nothing to distract me now. I’m all alone in this fight. No-one is in my corner backing me, and that’s OK.

My eyes are forward and I’m slowly gearing up for my final round.

This isn’t a happy birthday. This is the ring of the bell.

~ Damocles.

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