“I used to blame myself and thought that I should have figured it out. I should be prepared. It's okay to enjoy the ride of turning 36. I started to realize that it's just that it's okay to have that discomfort and not understand what's going on. I still have to push hard and explore, and I look at that as an opportunity to have that delicious feeling of not knowing what comes next.” - Jeremy Au
“There are a lot of dynamics around health that you know theoretically, but once you start feeling your own body go through struggles, or see your own friends go through it, at the end of the day, you’ll realize that the only person responsible for your health is yourself.” - Jeremy Au
“Oranges are about both food and a memory of being with my child in a very special way. Going to the park, and having long walks are things that I used to do for exercise, but it’s now an activity I get to enjoy with my kid. The swimming pool is no longer a place I dislike, but a place to see my kid explore and be delighted about. Now, life has a different set of meanings because I've become a parent.” - Jeremy Au
(01:59) Jeremy Au:
Recently, I turned 36 years old. Oh my gosh. Three, six. So old. When I was a teenager, I would look out the window from my bus and I would see all these old people walking around and I was like, "Oh my gosh, these are old." And now, I'm one of these old people who's officially past my middle age. I'm in my late thirties, which is an interesting time to be at and
I had a wonderful birthday with friends and family, a closed dinner party and we had such a wonderful conversation. And there's often this question that comes up, which is, hey, what have you learned over this past year? Any reflections that you have?
So I want to share the three lessons that I got from turning 36 years old. Oh my gosh. Here it goes.
The first thing that I realized is that I'm an amateur at aging. What that means is that this is my first time ever being 36 years old. When I was 35 years old, it was my first time turning 35 years old. When I was 18 years old, it was my first time turning 18 years old. When I say it out loud, it seems obvious because, there's no way when you're 18, you can experience and prepare for how to turn 36 years old. There's no training course, there's no syllabus that helps prepare you for being this age.
And so, now that I understand that it's natural, I started to realize that it's okay to sit back and just say, Hey, I don't really understand what's going on. It's okay to sit back and enjoy the ride of turning 36. And so what that means is that there's a certain level of discomfort that, I used to blame myself and be like, Hey, I should have figured this out. I should be totally prepared. I should know how this feels like. And now, I'm like, okay, you know what? It's okay I don't understand. I still obviously have to push hard, have discomfort, still have to explore. It's just that it's okay to have this discomfort that I don't understand what's going on, getting older, and instead looking at that as an opportunity to feel that delicious feeling of not knowing what comes next.
I think it's really a privilege to have that freedom to explore, and the freedom to feel and be outside your comfort zone.
The second thing I've learned is that health matters. Again, this feels like one of those wisdom pieces that you hear all the time from your grandparents, but this is probably the first time that I really felt it. I was training up for my army reservist training this year and what was interesting was that I hadn't done this level of physical training for 16 years. So I was running around as a 36 year old effectively and feeling like I had the body, my mental head of how I would have ran or done sit ups or did pull ups as an 18 year old. So there's this disconnect between the fit version of how easily I remembered running this distance, versus the actual body and age of me doing it and training out for it.
And so what was interesting was that I would be doing sit ups and then I would effectively strain my neck, and then I had to sit out sit ups for a month while I wait for my neck to recover. I was running my 2.4 kilometers and I would end up basically pulling my Achilles tendon. And I was just like, man, now I have to warm up like an old person. I got to do my stretches. And I used to be able to just run straight away, do sit ups and not get injured. And so, that's one aspect I saw.
I also saw my friends in my age group. I have friends who have autoimmune disorders that have come up. Some of them are starting to struggle or get diagnosed with cancer or finally be on the road of recovery from Lyme disease. So there's all these dynamics around health that you kind of knew theoretically. So It's one thing to know that you have the responsibility to take care of your own health. It's just that once you start feeling your own body go through this and once that seeing your own friends go through this, at the end of the day, the only person who is responsible for your health is yourself.
The third and last thing that I've learned is the joy of peeling an orange. The truth is, I've always grown up eating oranges and you're probably thinking to yourself, "Man, why are you suddenly talking about oranges?" It's just that, now, I have this experience where I gave my toddler an orange and she was confused by it. She was delighted by it. She was smelling it. She was trying to bite it.
I had this experience, opportunity just to be patient and sit down with her and teach her how to peel the orange, to demonstrate it myself, to peel it for her, to guide her hands to feel the orange and watch her struggle with it, get frustrated with it, ask for help, slowly get better at it, ask me for help again. So there are so many aspects about it, and those have created a new set of memories around what an orange is because now, it's not just peeling an orange for myself to eat as soon as possible, as fast as possible, with as little mess as possible.
So becoming a parent has really been a big blessing now that I've turned 36 years old, because so many aspects have a deeper meaning now. Oranges is about both food and a memory of being with my child in a very special way. So is going to the park, and long walks are things that I used to do for exercise. It's now an activity I get to enjoy with my kid. The swimming pool is no longer a place that I dislike, because I'm not a big fan of swimming in general. But now, it's also a place to see my kid be delighted and stretch herself, and explore what it to be fast, be slow, to be in the water, to get out of the water. So now, life has a different set of meanings that really has come about because I've become a parent.
All in all, the three lessons that I've learned from turning 36 are, one, I am an amateur at aging,. Two, you have to take care of your own health. And three, peeling an orange.