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.