Wednesday, July 19, 2006

On Turning 40

A month ago I celebrated my 40th birthday. And on that day, my son celebrated his 10th (more on him at a later time). Understandably, ten years ago I just didn't have the time to think about the significance of turning 30, as many of my peers did. With a brand new baby, such introspective thought is interrupted every 3 hours or so for feeding, changing, etc., or more likely, possible for the 5 seconds before exhaustion takes over, and swaddles you in blissful sleep.

Now that my only child no longer needs such minute to minute attention, I have much more time to reflect. As I contemplate 40, I know I have spent nearly ALL my years maturing. Learning to become comfortable with myself. Learning to understand my own motivations. Learning to understand how I am perceived, and how I perceive myself. And I'm not done, damnit!

As as child of 10 or 12, I thought that growing up had a finite end. That when I reached some magical age, 25 or 30 or 40, I would be done. I would be a full fledged adult, with problems solved, goals met, independence gained, self realized. Well. 33 days after my 40th birthday, I can tell you that is very much NOT the case. Maybe for others it is, but not me.

I think it has to do with passive vs. active living. As I child and young adult, I think I was simply biding my time until the process was over. Like waiting for a cake to finish baking. Completely glossed over the fact that PROCESS is not passive per se. Things have to be put in place to come together, yes? That cake might spend time in the oven, but not before ingredients are added the mixing bowl! There were moments of brilliance or blunder that I engineered, but mostly I waited.

Perhaps I have had my wake up call, or enough awareness to hear and heed it this time. I AM an adult. I have choices to make, within certain confines, of course. I have decided to take better care of myself. Of my self. I have decided to spend a little less time waiting. Patience is good. Martyrdom is not. I have decided to see myself as an adult, not a kid in an adult role. This is perhaps the hardest thing to do. To not allow myself to slip into either of two favored and oh, so comfortable, roles: Child Who Needs Tending, or Petulant Child Who Was Not Tended.

Since I plan to be around a few more decades, I have some time to polish my second act. Really how I see this part of my life. Birth to 40 as Act 1, Scenes i through xxxix in the books. Intermission over. Act 2 just now underway.


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