Last April, I turned 46.
I don’t know if it’s all that’s been happening to me lately at work and in my personal life, or the number itself, or life in general — but I am suddenly struck by the number as an actual count of my years of existence on this earth. For once, age is a relevant number to me.
I never really cared about age, even as I hit the so-called big four-oh six years ago and forty-five last year. I have always considered myself totally at home with the fact that I am getting older. Perhaps it helped that most people thought I was much younger than my actual age — and I’ve always attributed that to my Asian skin and eating habits. Lately, I have brazenly declared that make up does help a lot!
So why the sudden relevance of the number? These days I wonder if I’ll be so lucky to hit my mother’s current age of seventy-two (which, given the advances of science should not be too difficult), and I’ve become more concerned with “living in the now” by not being too smug about living forever.
Life is fast catching up with me, and seeing my eight-year-old son growing before my very eyes is, in itself, a wake up call. Will I see him grow up to get into college? Get married? Will I see my grandchildren and take care of them?
Will I be able to do all the things I want to do between then and now? Or will I be like my handful of friends who have been hit by one form of cancer or another, some successfully battling it, and some going through a recurrence of the big C in some other form?
Up until now, I had always thought that I could think of planning my life in stages of 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years. Since I turned 46, though, I think of what I want to be doing and where I want to be in five years, and I am struck by the thought of my having no guarantees that I will still be around then. Why wait?
Could the sudden awareness on my part also be because at this point in my life, I feel as though I can say I’ve done most of the things I had wanted to accomplish? Went to college to get a law degree. Got into my choice of law school. Passed the Bar (back home). Embarked on a corporate communications career. Gave that all up and settled down halfway across the globe to live in the greatest city in the world. Got married. Had the best thing happen to me when my son was born. Visited and fell in love with the City of Lights, Paris (not once, but twice!)… And have been to Disneyworld four times. (Not exactly a badge of honor..but a feat for a 46 year old adult who moved to New York only 12 years ago.)
At the present time, I’m crafting jewelry and accessories and doing crafts at leisure, writing about what I want the way I want and earning a decent paycheck at an unrelated day job.
Yet I feel as though I am at a crossroads, and vacillating about which road to take. And the tolling of the years and the uncertainty of the years to come makes me want to jump but I cannot.
I’m stuck at “comfortable” — but the thought of time not being there like it always has been is creeping up on me. So do I throw a pebble into the still waters and watch the ripples radiate from where it lands, or do I watch the calm from the shore? I suddenly feel like “dreaming” is no longer a luxury I can afford. “Doing” is what I should be hard at work at instead.
We always look at postponing things in our lives thinking that we can always do it another time. Somehow I feel I’m at a juncture when I don’t have that option anymore. I keep hearing it being said, you cannot postpone happiness — not very easy to do when it means giving up “comfortable” and causing upheavals in the lives of the people around me.
It would be so easy to up and go if it was only me I had to think about. But it isn’t so. And considering all that is causing me to wonder if I am not throwing away precious time keeping the peace and just sitting it out.
I think about “second chances” and I see one in front of me, but I want to wait a while longer. The question is, can I afford to do that? You’d think a 46-year-old would have the wisdom to speak authoritatively on questions about life — but I don’t feel so wise at all right now. I’m coming to terms with my own mortality — and the thought that the things I dream of five years from now: people, places, hopes — might not be around as long as I would want them to be. So what then?