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.


5 responses to “Being 45

  1. Hope you enjoyed your birthday. It sounds like a good one, but I would take the chocolate over the hang gliding any day…there is just something about heights..:)! Congratulations on your flight.

    Most of us at some point in time will dwell for a while on our mortality and hope that we have done something that has made an impact on others. Often, we will not see those results but they are there. My mom was 60 when she passed away, but my dad was my age (or my age next month) when he passed away with cancer–almost 10 years younger than she was when she died. It is really depressing to think about it all and wait for “what’s next.” I say make the best of what you have and enjoy every single day because we do not know how long we have. Well, that’s what I keep telling myself…

  2. Nice post but in response to: “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’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you the following: why?

    • Thanks for your comment. To answer your question, each of us leaves a legacy. Intentionally and/or unintentionally. I imagine all my experimenting, stumbling, learning, and trying again are my most probable legacy. It’d be nice if my life lessons benefit someone other than just me.

      • Perhaps I’ll just go with the assumption the dogs I’ve worked with have learned lessons that profoundly changed their lives. Then, I can die happy and no one can prove me wrong. 🙂 But seriously, we all have opportunities to make a difference every day. The “someone else” is not required to be a child. I would think that you, for example, have many such opportunities as a judge?

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