Here's what I've come up with so far, comparing the 31-year-old Michael with the 26-year-old Michael. A five-year comparison:
- My hair is finally beginning to recede a little bit on the front left side. Nothing major, but it's there. Yet my ears and nose are hairier than ever, and the hair keeps getting thicker and tougher. I know it's a stereotype, but it's still something when it's you that it's happening to.
- I weigh the same as the 26yo Michael. But I have a few more pounds of muscle and a few less pounds of fat today, so my body composition has improved. Given my erratic workout history, I'll take it.
- My joints are getting stiffer. Five years ago, a pre-workout warmup was a waste of time and a nuisance. Now it's almost essential.
- My vision is infinitely better than five years ago. Either I've discovered a priceless secret formula, or that LASIK thing really does work.
- My sleep schedule is much more regular. The variance of bedtimes and wake-up times has diminished a ton, so my overall energy levels are improved.
- My libido doesn't dominate my mood as it used to. Literally, if I was cravin' some lovin' five years ago I was a miserable SOB around the clock. Now I can deal with it a lot better.
- Related to the last point above, Jamie noted that my spirit is thicker than it used to be, in other words things don't affect me negatively as much as before. It remains to be seen if this is just a factor of age, if it's due to the experience of weathering more of life's storms, or if it's some combination of both. Basically my lows aren't as low as they used to be, and I don't go there as easily and often.
- I have a better empathy of the world around me, and how other people really don't think the same way as me. Everybody's a true individual, a universe unto themselves, with something unique to contribute to the world. And I'm more interested in discovering those contributions.
- I am much more content with my job than at age 26, yet I spend less time at the office. I am also less interested in promotions, and more interested in simply doing good work and making a difference in the people I work with. I'm more relationship-oriented, and less project-oriented, although my tendency is still to put the project first.
- I have never been more unsure of religious doctrine and agnostic about some major faith foundations. Yet I've never been more at peace spiritually. Quite the paradox, as the 26yo Michael placed a high value on having solid doctrine and being assured of the right religious path. The 31yo Michael doesn't care much for that anymore, and just wants to do as much good as he can in his little corner of the world.
- I get angry more often than I did at age 26. This is directly tied to being a father, where five years ago Jamie was 4 months pregnant with Samantha, our firstborn. So that's really not a fair comparison, as fatherhood has forced me to deal with some major selfishness issues. I'm sure I would've had even more anger issues if I was a father at age 22 or 25. Overall, though, I feel like I'm consistently improving in that area, although it's a startling challenge.
When I look at the day-to-day differences in my life over the past five years, it's a pretty big change, and mostly due to becoming a parent. Today I get less sleep, less sex and less discretionary income that I did at age 26. Yet I'm much happier today. Who would've thunk? If things keep on this track for another decade or two, I'll be a celibate, broke insomniac who's annoyingly joyful around the clock. Works for me!