Is There Life on Mars?


It’s chilly but sunny on 3/10; the day I turn 30 years old, an age that once seemed as distant as Mars. But here it is, all up in my grill, and after a year of dithering about the looming decade, I’m pleased to see that I haven’t vanished in a puff of smoke and there is indeed life after 30 after all.

We’re driving through The Burren in Co. Clare and the landscape is surreal – rolling hills covered with a baffling mosaic of ashen grey rocks. Tufts of grass poke through at intervals, like fists clawing for air. It’s an alien world, a black-and-white photo of the red planet; a bizarre stepping stone to our destination. The year I turned 29, I created a new birthday tradition – taking inspiring day-trips. Last year, I soaked in an onsen, blanketed by sakura. This year, I climb the Cliffs of Moher.

The cliffs are jagged, corrugated by rough strata, unperturbed by the blue waves crashing at their base, hundreds of meters below. Joy, Diego, and I climb over the sign that reads: “Please do not go beyond this point” and join the other idiots daredevils marching along the edges of the cliffs, ignoring the sheer death drop below. A salty breeze ruffles my hair and all around the air is pure. I stand at the edge and look forward; not at what I don’t have, but what I do, and what I have done.

At age 30, I have – so far – lived in four countries and traveled to 20.

I’ve spoken four languages.

I’ve loved and been loved; maybe more than I deserved.

I’ve sky-dived; climbed an active volcano; dangled over cliffs; white-water rafted; rowed; spelunked; hiked through Thai and Guatemalan jungles; ridden horses; sailed; flown; been attacked by a dog.

I’ve rejected everything I was born into; reached for dreams I made myself.

I’ve achieved two life goals; finally reaching now for the remaining two.

I’ve moved – twice – to places where I knew no one.

I’ve cheated medical odds.

I’ve never smoked a cigarette.

I’ve stood, naked, at an onsen, underneath frosty white cherry blossom trees.

I’ve had Jägermeister thrown in my eye.

I’ve renovated a studio.

I’ve juggled five jobs to pay the rent.

I’ve been pickpocketed and robbed.

I’ve made mistakes.

I’ve done things that scared me.

I’ve used my English degree.

To the future.

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. Shauna says:

    liv, your writing is beautiful. well played on the english degree! savor every moment.. i’ll be with ya soon, girl. xo -sh.

  2. mommy says:

    You have certainly earned your 30 birthday degree: welcome to being alive and more….love, Mom.

  3. Danielle says:

    Happy Birthday, Liv!
    This fellow Arts-degree-user looks forward to enjoying everything you choose to share with us as the adventure continues 🙂

    Write-on!
    Dani.

  4. Travelogged says:

    Gorgeous photo — what a powerful post!

  5. Great post and a life being well lived. Enjoy!

  6. Excellent post! We have to live our lives to the fullest and traveling is a great way to do it. Already 30 and you have done all those things? You are ahead of the game.

  7. Nate says:

    F-ck yeah.

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