My last letter to you was about 1 year of writing letters. This letter is about me turning 30. What a week of milestones and nauseating understanding about the steady, continuous, never-ending passage of time. I read somewhere once about a neurologist (big word for brain studier) who was trying to understand why time seems to pass quicker as you age. i.e., why it seems that days and years fly by quicker and quicker as you get older and older. He came to the conclusion that it had to do with how our brains process ratios. When you are young, like you, you’ve only been alive for 215 days (that’s actually correct, today), so each day is a pretty large fraction of your total experience. When you are old, like me, and you’ve been around for 30 years (10,957 days, to be exact) each day is a very, very small percent of your total experience. You brain understands the passing of those days differently. Though we’ve both experienced October 28th as October 28th, it was 1/215 of your life (0.5%) and it was 1/10,957th of my life - only 0.009%!
That’s just a lot of math to say that time moves quickly. That as you age, it accelerates, and before you know it, you’re leaving the 20’s behind, becoming a 30 year old, learning there are only 150 days left, exactly, until you have a one year old son.
I was lying in bed the other night and tried to remember my 10th and 20th birthdays. No real reason I selected those, other than they represent my decades of existence, and we like decades, because they are multiples of 10, and because we have 10 fingers, we developed a mathematical system around those units. I think. Regardless, I couldn’t quite recollect them. Where I was, what I was doing, who I was with. I remember thinking, or maybe I think I remember thinking, that at that time they seemed like big events. Becoming someone that was 2 numbers old. Becoming a a twenty-something, not a teenager. But the fact is, I don’t remember those days at all. What seemed like such a momentous milestone faded into the background of my 10,957 days. Tomorrow we add another. And another. And another.
Time stops for no one, Noah. You will, I pray, live your first 30 years as joyfully as I have lived mine. You will learn to walk and learn to talk and then learn to be a little boy. We will build Brio train tracks in your room, go for hike’s at Shenandoah National Park, kick a soccer ball back and forth. You will go to school, make friends, learn girls don’t have a peculiar disease that exists in the minds of 4 year old men, meet one, fall in love. You will turn 20, away at college, we’ll call to tell you, as we must, that we love you, we’re proud of you. Some day, far away or down the street or across the globe, you will turn 30. Maybe you’ll have your own little boy or little girl and you’ll write them letters or make them videos or just love them as you must. You’ll sit down on your near 11,000th day and you’ll look back on a life that is likely at least 1/3rd over, and you’ll wonder where the time went. You’ll look back on pictures I’ve taken of you - doughy cheeks puffed out, smiling, laughing at me putting your pacifier in my mouth. You’ll maybe watch a video of yourself, sucking in deep breaths of air each time I blow on your face, an involuntary reflex that your Mother and I, so long ago, found amusing. You’ll hopefully think of me, that day you turn 30, and call to talk to me about my upcoming 60th birthday. Hopefully afterwards you open a celebratory bottle of red wine, maybe one you got on a trip to Napa with your breathtaking spouse, and I hope, more than anything Noah, that as you toast the life you have lived, you feel as blessed as I do, today.
I love you, with way more power and awe than the days I have spent with you can possibly account for. I’d say “happy birthday” to me, but I am more joyful to be celebrating your 215th day of life.