April in Glenwood: One thing leads to another | PostIndependent.com

April in Glenwood: One thing leads to another

I’m no philosopher, but my birthday week has me contemplating life’s intricacies. Specifically, I’m incorporating causal reasoning into my daily thoughts.

That philosophy course in college came in handy after all.

Age might just be a number, but I prefer it to be one that doesn’t restrict me from doing what I aspire to in life. My late friend Julian Vogt, who lived to be nearly 104, was proof of this. We shared an April 20 birthday, so every year I think of him and his zest for life. And boy did he have it. Julian didn’t even take up snowboarding until he was nearly 80, if that says anything.

He could also dance like a teenager on “American Bandstand” in his 100s.

Age is also an annual milestone that prompts us to look to the past to learn from our mistakes, be present in the now and embrace uncertainty of the future. Such self-reflection is where causality comes in big time for me. I’m hyper-cognizant of the relationship between cause and effect, and how prior decisions and actions affect my life. Today, and the days to come. I assure you, such awareness comes with age.

And much trial and error.

Take for example, my decision to relocate from Indiana to Colorado in the summer of 2003. Spontaneous would be the best word to describe it. At the time, it was exciting and exotic. I didn’t know what to expect, or what would happen once I arrived. The move was a chance for me to live in a different state and explore the west. I took it as an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Leaving a corporate job was risky and challenging. I cried more than a few times. I used credit cards to survive. Sometimes I wonder what I was thinking leaving a career track that had me retiring in my 50s — especially when that time in my life doesn’t seem too far off. But all I need to do is think about the new life I created in Colorado. The work I found in the community. The friends I made in the valley.

And I smile like Julian.

I wouldn’t have penned a column about life in the mountains, and beyond, for 13 years. If I hadn’t covered arts and entertainment, I probably wouldn’t have best friends in the Carbondale arts scene, as they first knew me as “the girl from the paper” who became immersed in the strong relationships that form through art. I doubt I’d ever have the nerve to try stand-up comedy without embracing risk by whitewater rafting through the Shoshone section of the Colorado River in high water. I wouldn’t have met Julian, who wrote me an email out of the blue using the address I publish at the end of every column to wish me a mutual 4/20 birthday.

I’ve received well wishes of the pro-weed smoking variety from readers on my birthday, too.

Without one spontaneous decision, I wouldn’t have the extraordinary life I’ve experienced by leaving Indiana, living in Colorado, then returning to my hometown to be closer. Being a thousand miles from my parents, and losing a decade with my grandparents before they passed, proved to wear on me.

So I made another big decision and returned home.

Everything, and I mean everything, changed for me. Like leaving the first time, the causality of moving created a snowball effect. My story is straight out of a rom-com starring a comic with a terrible love life who keeps making bad life decisions until one day she discovers true love and has a baby. My life has figuratively played out like that, and it all has to do with losing my grandparents within four months of each other and following my heart.

One decision leads to so many others — there goes that crazy causal reasoning again. And if I had the last 14 years to live over, I would do it all again. Everything would be the same, with all the trial and error of making the wrong choices or deciding what was right for me. I wear my failures like a badge to show I was strong enough to make it through adversity, whether that be loss of money or love, and everything in-between. I’m proud of any success I’ve garnered because I know it came to me through hard work and determination. I’ll never know how much my life will change as I continue to celebrate milestones. Whatever happens as I grow older, I’ll learn from the experience and avoid regret.

And be happy I shared a birthday with a friend named Julian.

April E. Allford wishes Julian a happy 106th birthday, on whichever mountain he may be hanging out on these days. She can be reached at aprilallford@gmail.com.