schirin oeding

under a peregrine star

Getting Older, Being Young, and Making Lists

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Hi friends,

Ok, the title for this post might be kind of ludicrous: it’s generally not culturally acceptable for twenty-four year olds to talk about aging. I mean, these are THE YEARS of our lives. Right? I agree with that entirely, but I’m also completely convinced that THE YEARS are always, if we want them to be. So when I talk about getting older here, I’m not complaining. Actually, over the past few months, as I’ve travelled, studied, met new people, been offered jobs (yeah, this might be an awesome perk of getting older, even if I do turn all of them down), made minor and major life choices, I have felt, more tangibly than ever, a growing sense of responsibility for my self and my life. All of this, this thing that might be “getting older” ( I wouldn’t know, it’s my first time), hasn’t been easy or obvious. I still don’t always know if I am making the right choice (who does?), I know I make plenty of mistakes, and I feel, more and more and more, that I have so much left to learn.  The more I see, the less I know, right? It’s true, and yet all of that feels like an enormous gift. I feel full of energy and optimism —not always, not constantly, but pretty much overarchingly (that’s not a word, oh well…)— and I feel like making a list. So here goes, straight from the clear mountain air of the Swiss Alps (is the altitude getting to me?) , to you*. I’ve never been much of a fan of making lists like this. (I’m not a peak bagger, either)  I’m not sure why. Does it seem superficial? Do we tend towards listing things that probably won’t happen anyway? Is it hollow a way of making ourselves feel better when we feel like we’re not getting anywhere? I’m putting all that aside. This list is not a Life List (life isn’t a checklist, after all), or a Bucket List, or anything particularly rigid or closed to change and/or revision and/or interpretation. Just some ideas that have been floating around my mind, that seem to warrant writing down. Perhaps it’s a way of setting intentions, or reenforcing them, or giving them a life of their own. Actually, I don’t have a lot of doubt that these things will come to fruition—I am, after all, working on making them happen as I write. Maybe you’ll be inspired to write a list of your own… I’d love to know what you’re planning, too. Maybe we can work together.
* A nice thing about being young and writing about getting older is that (hopefully) those of you who are older and wiser will forgive me for any weird assumption and assertions. I am, after all, still kinda young.
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Within the next ten years, I will have…

1. completed my masters in landscape design/architecture and will have built a successful, systems-based design business that focuses on farm, urban niche, and rural design. (And LOVE  my work!)

2. built a house (even a VERY small house) with my own two hands (and some friends and family) out of basic ingredients like straw and cob.

3. hiked parts of the Olav’s Way in Norway. (I don’t really feel like hiking all 560 km of it—just the choicest bits.)

4. begun learning a new language—Danish or Swedish would be at the top of the list here. (I know, this won’t help much when I am hiking in Norway…)

5. travelled to Asia, especially rural Asia. (And especially Japan and Vietnam and Thailand.)

6. travelled to India—and met some of the amazing biodynamic farmers now working there.

7. eaten a Pawpaw fruit. Seriously: I’ve been a sort-of student of permaculture for more than five years now, and while I’ve heard a heck of a lot of praise for this elusive fruit, I have yet to eat one myself. I’m starting to think they’re mythical. Okay, they’re not… 

8. grown rice in a northern climate.

9.  become a better public speaker. I got a chance to do some spontaneous public speaking with a professional this summer, and boy, did I feel nervous and crazy and filled with adrenaline. I really think that good public speakers can convey messages and tell stories in stunning, memorable, lyrical, and life-changing ways—I’d like to aspire at least to some of that. Here are two great speakers for you: Elizabeth Gilbert on creative genius, and Sarah Kay on spoken-word poetry, growing up, and life itself.

10. continued to write and publish: articles, stories, poems. You can find my writing in Taproot, as well as here, and occasionally in a few other places.

11. been singing in a choir. I miss singing. Especially like this.  (Village Harmony would be THE people to sing with.)

12. bought a piece of land to build the house (see #2) and plant the garden that I’ve been dreaming of for a long time. A place to stay put. A place to hang my hat.

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That’s all for now. It’s a long list, though not an all-encompassing one by any means, and not impossible either. I’ll keep you posted on my progress. (Ten years, right?)

xo

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4 thoughts on “Getting Older, Being Young, and Making Lists

  1. I like making up new words as I get older, too. Sayings, as well, but that’s mostly because I forget the actually saying, haha. An example: “In your nooks and nannies”, haha

    Great post on great adventures

  2. I’d also like to join a choir 🙂

  3. You’re very prescient to think about aging at 24, and you’re very wise too to realize already that no matter how fabulous the 20’s are, the rest of life will also be fabulous! I’m not exactly at the end of life yet to give the full endorsement that life stays great, but I’m more than halfway through my 40’s, and overall it just keeps getting better, throughout the inevitable ups and downs along the way.

    Even physical aches and pains can get better and not just worse – I remember going to the children’s museum with you when you were a kid, and I was complaining about painful it was to lie down in the mummification station with my neck in that brain-extraction rack while still alive, and you pointed out it was likely an age thing … I figured it would all be downhill from there, but I find that I could probably do it more easily today! Depending on the day… 😉

    Having a list is great… you get more done with a plan, even if what you actually get done isn’t the same stuff that started out on the plan! I’ll bet it doesn’t even take you 10 years to do those things, and I’ll bet you do most of it, too.

    The pawpaw fruit looks good … now I want to try one too. I’d better hurry, I have even fewer years left than you to find one in …

  4. an admirable and exciting list.

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