Get a birthday routine. Something simple, something you can pull off competently year after year without any risk of screwing it up. That way, even if everything else is falling apart and everyone is rushing for the exits, you can still have cake. For me, it’s carrot cake. Without fail, on the day before my birthday, there it is; either in a cafe on Bowen Island or down the street from your new place on Kingsway. Simple. Reliable. True.
No raisins, please.
Get your hopes up once in awhile. Sometimes it’ll kick your teeth in, but at least you know you’re still capable of that wild-eyed wonder staring down the beautiful face of What If.
Forgive yourself already. You’re gonna make more messes anyhow.
Realize that the universe’s sense of humour remains utterly implacable; it literally can’t figure out whether it’s going to dark comedy, absurdist, macabre, three-camera sitcom canned laugh tracks or some other avant-garde notion of a knock-knock joke. You’re going to get life-changing news on a crowded #130 headed to Metrotown and want to scream but you can’t because you’re literally asses to elbows with BCIT students.
Scream anyway. They’ll get over it.
Accept that some things you learned when you were younger were bullshit. Not about Santa Claus, cause he’s real as hell, but other stuff like “It’ll Get Better On It’s Own is a totally viable philosophy to have about your mental and physical health.” Your warranty’s probably run out by now, and your “immortal” twenties weren’t immortal at all; you were just putting everything on the credit card. Now ditch the pizza and hit the elliptical before therapy, dumbass.
Don’t fucking worry so much about building your “body of work,” and quit beating yourself up for the days you didn’t hit your page count. Most of those great writers you look up to were drunk half the time, you can afford an off day on your ass playing Skyrim. Some days the words just don’t come, and that’s okay cause when they do show up holy shit you’re gonna need a bigger boat.
Stare into the gaping maw of Depression. Tell it to go fuck itself.
And last but not least: Get to know Age really well. It was always there, but now you notice it even more, in the cataracts in the eyes of the family dog, the shaking paper hands of your grandfather, the way you communicate better with your sister and parents. No point in trying to shove Age out the door or getting paranoid about every wrinkle and hunting for greys in the bathroom mirror every morning, so take its coat and ask if you can make it a cup of coffee.
It’s easier when you can look it in the eye.
So hello. Hey. Hi. How are you?