Gearing up for the Age of Enlightment

In just under two weeks, I will be entering the Age of Enlightenment.

That’s right, I’m turning 42. To celebrate (not), I’ll be flying up to Portland for a week to finish settlement on our new house. I won’t say I’m not excited, but I’m not thrilled about being away from the wife and kids for a week so I can sit around to sign some papers.

I used to think getting older would bother me, but to be perfectly honest, I’m not even convinced I’m that old. I just don’t feel old. It still feels like yesterday I was only twenty something, getting ready to set out into the future with my best girl at my side. I look in the mirror and I don’t see the wrinkles I expected, and only one white (not grey) hair. I still feel young, despite how tired I get between work and kids and life.  We have had a few kids since then, but at the core, we’re still exactly the same. How can I be turning 42?

But maybe I am getting older. I’ve certainly grown more introspective in the last few years. I’m realizing just how good I have it, between work and family, but most importantly, with the woman I love. There’s a line in the Princess Bride about True Love, and to wax a little romantic, that’s exactly what we have. But I haven’t forgotten how lucky I’ve been.

On my BART ride home Friday night, I sat down across from a gentleman. We nodded at each other, and then he told me how they cut his hours at work. Like any public transport system, there are categories of people you find yourself riding with. Commuters and travelers are the more common, but there are also the beggars, the homeless, etc.. I am ashamed to admit that my first thought was that this man might be a little off. Didn’t he know the boundaries of social interaction for strangers on a subway?

But we continued talking, and I quickly realized this poor man was just scared and talking to the first friendly face he met. He told me how he was dropped from SSI in January and had to get a job for the first time. He was proud to be a dishwasher, but you could tell he was scared too. We talked for an hour, much to the annoyance of our fellow travelers who would rather no one spoke. I’m no fountain of wisdom or life guidance, but for this young man forced to go out into a world he wasn’t ready for, even trite reassuring words from me seemed to help.

When we parted, I realized how much I appreciate how good I have it. Appreciating what you have is a step to enlightenment, so maybe I do know a little something about life, the universe, and everything. Maybe I am ready to be 42 after all.