Being 45


Every year, without fail, no matter how much I try to skip it, I get a year older.  Some years this goes by with barely a blip on the “oh my god, I’m getting older!” radar.  Other years, an alarm goes off, warning me I’m passing some milestone I would rather not pass.  Well, actually, up until my 25th birthday, I looked forward to the milestones.  But, once I turned 25 and hit the final milestone that was important to me (being able to rent a car), I started wanting to put the brakes on aging.

At 25, I was suddenly, marvelously aware of how young I was.  I think the realization started to sink in when I walked in the print center at the office (back when there was such a thing) to pick up a printout and the guy working there had a big cake that said “Happy 25th!”  Upon learning it was his 25th service anniversary, I blurted out, “Wow!  You’ve been working here longer than I’ve been alive!”  He didn’t offer me a piece of cake.

That was in 1989.  I ended up working in that same office until 2006.  While it’s not 25 years, the speed at which those 17 years flew by was astounding.

As I write this, I realize I have had a “career” (if that’s what we call it) for 23 years.  That’s more years than I had been alive when I insulted that poor man on his service anniversary.

These are the kinds of thoughts that depress me.  Not that there’s anything wrong with being 23 years into my career.  I just hate to think that it’s really been 23 years.  I find myself wondering what’s next.

I want there to be at least 1 person who would say they learned something so meaningful from me it changed their lives in a powerful and positive way.  I haven’t found that person yet and I fear I’m running out of time.

The truth is I sometimes feel a sudden stab of irrational fear as the clock ticks.  I am only 3 years younger than my mother was when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I am only 13 years younger than my mother was when she died.  I know it’s silly, but fear rumbles in my belly when I least expect it.  I try not to indulge this fear.  After all, does it matter how much longer I have left?  How often have we heard we should live every day like it’s our last?  Of course, that probably isn’t advice coming from a financial planner.

In spite of my anxieties about aging, I did two things today to celebrate being 45:  I flew off the big training hill for the first time at the hang gliding flight park and I ate chocolate truffle cake for dessert after my birthday dinner.  Hang gliding feels like seizing life and squeezing a little extra out of it.  Chocolate truffle cake feels like decadence.  Both seem appropriate for someone who’s made it through 45 years.