Two events occured over the Christmas holidays that made me pause to think and reassess life thus far.
First, I turned 38. It wasn't anything that I was paying particular attention to. Oh, I knew it was coming, but in the rush of things I pushed it to the corners of my mind. When it finally came as it did, I think it took me a bit by surprise.
Not that there's anything particularly special about the age itself; after all, it's not a round number that signifies another decade. But it places me just two years before that monumental marker for middle age, the big four-oh. I've crossed a threshhold of sorts and frankly, it's a little scary.
For one thing, I realize I'm no longer a creature of potentiality but rather a being of actuality. Those unexplored possibilities that I might have become are slowly closing off one by one. Ahead is the road made real by the choices I have made -- friendships, finances, fiancees, and yes, foolishness -- and there are fewer branches from which it diverges. There is no turning back. One can only go forward. Locked and loaded, so to speak. Inevitably one asks: "Did I make the right decisions?"
There are waypoints that we set for ourselves when we're starting out: embark on a career at twenty; save up for a car by twenty-five; get married and have kids by thirty; promoted to manager by thirty-five; and so on and so forth. Where I am now is just about where one takes stock of oneself with regard to this plan.
So there's the inherent danger in this exercise: one can't look back without a twinge of regret (no matter how one tries to deceive oneself with platitudes about living with no regrets.) Temporally limited as we are, there's always that road not taken. What if? And then there will be the inescapable comparisons with one's contemporaries: some will have fared better, others worse. Looking upwards, looking down, you can't help but ask: what if?
On the other hand, this fear is tempered somewhat by confidence. This is hardly yet the end of the race, just the halfway mark. Following the average, I'll have another twenty to thirty years ahead of me, or, if I'm lucky, forty to fifty. Of possibilities there may be less, but it also does mean there will be less confusion at quarter-life. And, of course, there's the rich wine of experience from which I have already drunk. Nothing more to do but to move onward.
Two events occured over the Christmas holidays that made me pause to think and reassess life thus far. The first, as I have already mentioned, I turned 38. The second? The birth of my nephew Jerrard Luke, 8 lbs, 54 cm, pink, bald, and cute. They say he looks like me.
When I look at him, I see a creature of possibility, and I smile because, well, life goes on.