Sunday, August 26, 2007

joining the ranks of the thirty-something

With much reflection, minor fretting, moments of fleeting excitement and admittedly a few mild panic attacks my thirtieth birthday has passed with relative ease. My ten day series of themed lists gave me the opportunity to reflect back on a decade of life that saw fundamental structural changes in my life. My twenties began after a brutal year at university that shattered more than one illusion of what life after high school would entail for me. I returned to school that autumn with a budding realization that my life would take unforeseeable turns and the paths that would present themselves would not take the form I had envisioned.

Somehow it seems fitting that I have celebrated the start of this new decade of my life residing in a situation that would have been impossible for anyone to anticipate. I am living in a country thousands of miles from my friends and family and learning subjects far removed from my original course of study.

Sensing that I was on the cusp of an existential crisis, Chris had been preoccupied with creating a day that would allow us to mark the occasion in a fittingly memorable style. He had made arrangements for us to dive the HMAS Brisbane, a wreck sunk off the Sunshine Coast. But the weather was not to cooperate with the skies letting loose an onslaught of rain for days on end that left our destination in the grips of rising flood waters. With the turbulent surf we further suspected visibility would not be ideal for exploring underwater enviros anytime soon.

So it was on to plan B which began with a lovingly prepared breakfast of pancakes and vegetarian sausages.

My morning of being happily spoiled continued with several hours of pampering at Apollo's, a local day spa. This surprise was moderately spoiled by a call the night before by a receptionist confirming my appointment for the next morning. So I was enlightened to the location but not the associated activities. I was stunned at what awaited me at the spa.

I was first shown to the bathhouse which was constructed in the traditional Korean style. The bathhouse routine incorporates relatively quick transitions between temperatures, either through submersion in a hot tub for several minutes followed by a cold bath or time in a dry sauna succeeded by a cold shower.

Initially the nakedness element was daunting. While I am not entirely squirmish at the idea of nudity in confined public places with only members of the same sex, (likely due to all the occasions spent in swimming locker rooms in my formative years), I am also not prone to parading about in all my natural glory. However, after a brief duration my hesitations were quelled by the liberation offered by the collective nude states of the other patrons.

After some time moving between the baths and the sauna my pampering treatments began. First up was an exfoliating sea salt rub followed by a clay wrap with meant having my body literally painted in mud and then being wrapped in a tinfoil type material. Luckily they left one of my arms free so I could sip a glass of champagne while I flipped through celebrity gossip magazines. After washing off the dried remnents of the clay experience I was treated to an hour long massage that provided me with a level of relaxation I have rarely experienced.

So overall truly an experience that I will not soon forget. Perahps it was all the relaxation and pampering but I awoke this morning wtih an altered perception on life. No longer are all the upcoming life-altering occasions (a wedding, a graduation, a restart to my career, a move to Canada) anxiety inducing events to be feared but I am starting to see them as opportunities for fresh starts filled with potential. Perhaps this getting older thing isn't something to be dreaded as we are so often conditioned to think.

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