I have thought a lot of what it means to start over since I turned forty last November. But like an engine that won’t turn, that is what I feel like. Every time I get a spark of hope, foot on the accelerator, it’s gonna catch this time, I’m disappointed. The engine coughs, struggles and then just stops. I listen in the silence, pray up a silent “please,” and press the pedal one last time. Nothing. Still. Not. Ready. Again I sit alone in the car hoping that there might be another chance. Another opportunity. This is the story of my life. The lifelong search for something connected and not rejected.
Growing up it was the inner monologue that told me I could never measure up to the perfectly knit family that my mom, dad and two sisters had so easily embraced. In high school and college, it was the friends that found ways to rebel and get close to the line of no return, yet never truly crossing over. At one point in my 20’s, it was a charismatic church cult that took me in and took advantage of my naivety and youth. In my 30’s it was the pursuit of a career that would mean something, make a difference, make me somebody who made a difference. And now I’m 40. Forty. Even saying the word drops with a thud that simply doesn’t bounce back up. Forty. Forty. Foooorty. I try to turn it over in my mouth so that it sounds perky like twenty or serious like thirty, but all I get is the dead weight of an anchor called FORTY.
Perhaps it’s not the age that pulls me down, but the realization that I am consciously looking to the next forty and counting backwards instead of forwards. It is the visual that the clock stopped and is now moving counterclockwise. And I don’t know what the end will look like, I don’t even know what tomorrow will look like. Loss and grief have stolen a sincere outlook that my life is perfectly in tack and on track – an unstoppable meaning making machine. A life filled with daily passion for an exciting future with greatness around every corner. But one day, I woke up and realized I may just be ordinary. And ordinary sounds a lot like forty. Lifeless and hopeless. This is what loss and grief do sometimes, steal your perspective.
Loss and grief are thieves. They wear dark masks. The sneak around in the background of your life. They carry their bags filled with YOUR moments, YOUR memories, YOUR life. And they steal them right out from under your nose. You never see them coming, and when you turn around and look for the things you once had in your heart they are gone. The love you had on your wedding day. The joy shared with the man of your dreams. The friends you miss dearly. The children you thought your kids would become. The people who never said goodbye and then died.
And then it hits you, and you turn around and look for those things, and realize you have been robbed. You should not have to live without those things. “Love lives in your heart.” I would tell my children. “You have the memories to carry with you forever,” like the cliche that someone would dress up for a fancy pinterest post. BULLSHIT, I want to scream at it. Give me my stuff back. Give me the love, and joy, and disillusionment that a happy, perfect life is mine. Give me the unbridled lust for life and compassion for the daily grind that I know will bring me meaning. Give me twenty again, or even thirty, but please take forty back.
Give me twenty again, or even thirty, but please take forty back.