The biggest change as I switch from version 32 to version 33 is the realization that most of my time is spent solving for upside.

That means I spend no time worrying about basic necessities, little time contemplating worst-case scenarios, and all of the rest attempting to make myself, the people and things around me a bit better. It means I get to choose the projects I get to spend time on, choose where I work from, and choose the kind of work I do.

It also means I get to see places I might never have dreamed of and spend money and time on things that I didn’t think I’d have the opportunity to experience growing up.

Admittedly, it does all feel a bit ridiculous at times. The scrawny kid from 20 years ago would look at the present me and scarcely believe his luck. And for good reason.

There have been three side-effects to this realization.

The first is gratitude. Lots of gratitude. To the combination of people and circumstances that have made all this possible and continue to do so today.

The second is perspective. This privilege means my regular problems are minor blips in the grand scheme of things. I’m not attempting to save our family from an invasion. We’re not stuck facing a pandemic without financial resources. We’re incredibly lucky. Remembering that privilege every day brings lots of perspective.

And the third is a sense of responsibility to make something of all this luck and privilege. It means making doubly sure I’m doing my best to work on problems that matter and giving them my best shot. The results I seek aren’t guaranteed – but the journey is one I can dedicate myself to.

These realizations have also helped me be more at peace with myself – with all my strengths and weaknesses. When I find that sense of responsibility getting overwhelming or when I feel myself falling short (and let’s face it – it happens often), I know I can count on the perspective to remind myself that things are fine, really. Mistakes and stumbles are expected, even essential. Failing isn’t falling down, its staying down.

Perhaps, most of all, listening to all this self-talk and attempting to improve it has helped me better appreciate the therapeutic power of writing every day. Every day, as I open up my WordPress editor, I realize it is a great opportunity to take stock.

Time to remind myself to summon that perspective and find the learning in those experiences.

Time to grow, hit refresh, simply begin again.

Thank you for joining me on the ride and for all the encouragement along the way.

It means more than I can express.

(Past birthday notes: 32, 313029282726252423)