Tomorrow is a purely human event, driven by calendars, and not one of particular note in the big universe.
Tomorrow, I turn 40.
That is an amazing fact to me, as that number seems incredibly old to my brain. Of course, this is the same brain that sees me as a twenty-something instead of a soon-to-be forty-something.
So what have I done in forty years?
I remember being facinated with numbers when I was about six. I wrote numbers down, counting upward on my large, blue-lined paper, as far as I could. I distinctly remember doing that exercise with my age and the year, and realizing that I would be 36 when 2000 came, and I thought how far away that seemed.
I can remember my Mom turning thirty, and thinking that that was old, and so incredibly far off from my tender age of nine.
I can remember a few years later seeing Enterprise fly. Not the one from ST, but the real one, the shuttle. I can remember being so encouraged that we were taking our first steps to “reusable space” and I was there to see it. And suddenly the future seemed a little more at hand.
And then, in 1980, I was convinced that the election of Reagan would ensure that I would not see my own graduation the following year. And suddenly, I was mortal, and, misguidedly, facing my own mortality.
Mortality hit me hard in the early 80s, as I watched my Grandmother wither from ALS, and lost my mentor to cancer in midlife. I had never had to deal with death on such a personal scale before, and it really racked me.
While in college, I found the deepest love I had known by that time, made plans for marriage, endured the pain of a miscarriage, and finally the dissolution of what was probably the most self-destructive and impactful relationship of my life.
God sent me someone to help me get to Him in 1984, and I found something in life that I had only been scratching the surface of for so long. I had prayed most of my life, but I didn’t truly pray until I was led to Him. Suddenly, mortality wasn’t quite so bad, as I knew I had a home. I’ve not felt so close to the Lord since that time, His hand was so evident in my life.
I joined the Air Force, and spent the last part of the ’80s proud that I was serving my country, and following in the footsteps of my father.
I found marriage, or, more accurately, it found me. And, probably for the wrong reasons, I made the best of it for a number of years
I can remember coming up on thirty, and was so surprised that I had survived that long. I was convinced I would die from some stress-related event before I hit thirty. I was in a horrible job, and I know it affected me.
And then, my daughter came into my life, and suddenly life had yet more magic, more to live for. I had never loved anyone as I had her — I guess that’s just the bond between a parent and child. When her mother and I split in the mid ’90s, it was just flat painful, and I was so afraid that I would become nothing but an occassional playmate for her. She’s proven that wrong, and has been such a joy, and such a comfort.
I married again, and, once more, life took a new turn, and showed me that there was so much out there for me, if only I were to look for it.
I lost my Father, and felt the biggest loss I’ve ever known. Life is a little less colorful without him in it. My life, though, is blessed for having had so much time with him.
Now, I have a good job, a decent career, a great daughter, a great wife, two dogs and a cat, and a bigger house than I ever thought I’d own.
So what do I want to do in the next ten years?
I want to visit Africa, Alaska, Antarctica, Japan, Germany and Australia.
I want to give something back to the world. Even if it is as simple as a little piece of code that becomes useful.
I want to become a photographer.
I want to become a better pianist.
I want to learn other instruments: the banjo, the harmonica, the drums.
I want to enjoy life, and remember that’s what it’s here for.
I don’t want to waste a minute.
I want to laugh… hard.
I want to get comfortable in my skin.
I want to set myself up for another four decades.
Jean-Luc said that there was a point you reach when there are more years behind than ahead. I pray that I’m only at the halfway point.