20 August 2004
Fear strikes out
People, usually well-meaning, will tell you to your face "it's just a number," but every time the Odometer of Life rolls over another digit I feel something of a twinge. (Heaven help us all when it rolls over two digits at once.)
Still, once you've done enough of these, the presumed panic eventually gives way to a sort of contentment? Michele has calculated that the answer can be 42:
Let's take stock of things here, to give this questionable fear of 42 some context: I love my life. I really like my job and all the people I work with. The thought that I'll be there the rest of my working days does not depress me at all. We just became first time homeowners. In short time, I will be a business owner. My marriage is great. My kids are wonderful. My entire immediate family is healthy. Sure, money is tight, but I've already accepted that will always be the case. I already have everything I need and most things I want. I have wonderful friends. I'm satisfied with what I have done with my life and what I'm doing now. The future looks good.
There's a lower incidence of rose colors in my own spectrum, but this is what I wrote at the moment of fiftyness:
For roughly twenty years, I've been more or less content to go with the flow, to let the chips fall, to pile up the clichés. Something I'm not sure what has set up a diversion. Something has changed. And perhaps that's my task for the next five years: to figure out exactly what that something may be.
So I have to clean yet another house, sort through the emotions, the neuroses, the random thoughts, find out what's worth keeping and what can be tossed. It's a scary proposition, to say the least. Yet somehow, I'm not particularly scared.
And maybe, just maybe, that's what's changed. Fear may do you some good when you're younger; at fifty, it's just one more thing that gets in the way.
In retrospect, the fears I had didn't do me much good at all, but it took me entirely too long to start clearing them out.
And actually, forty-two is quite a nice age: still young enough to care about things, but old enough to know when not to give a damn. I have a feeling Michele's going to like it. A lot.