A Therapist’s Thoughts on Turning 45
So, yes, I officially turned 45 years old today. 45 years! What does this even mean? How does thinking about it effect me? Does it cause me to re-evaluate my life? Or mourn the passing of my youth and youthful vigor? Does it conjure a slew of thoughts about my own mortality? After all, birthdays effect everyone differently and, no matter how we approach these milestones of time’s annual passing, different birthdays carry different types of meaning with them. Turning 10 for instance, then 13, 16, 18, 21, 30, 40… all unique experiences. Turning 45, what did I really think about this? Well, this morning I got my answer, courtesy of a thought I didn’t remotely expect to have.
It started when I was sitting down with my 8:00 cup of coffee, daydreaming, considering what an immensely rich and adventure-filled life I’ve lived so far. A medley of images surfaced in my mind, a nebulous and layered montage of a thousand memories, a thousand places and faces, sights and smells, sounds and tastes and touches. So much I have lived, so much I have done! This thought left me feeling grateful more than anything else. Not a single regret, just pure appreciation for the 45 years I’ve had the good fortune to tally and all that has transpired to transport me to where I am today.
And yet this wasn’t the pivotal thought I had this morning, but rather just the backdrop, the place from which my next, most surprising, thought would arise. The thought was this: “And I’m only halfway done!”
Sure, who am I to presume that I will live to be 90 years old? There’s certainly no guarantee of that, as a Tibetan saying reminds–Tomorrow or the next life, no one knows which will come first. But living to be 90 years old is not outside the realm of possibility and (most certainly) having conviction about my longevity can only help my spirit and attitude, so this is the mindset I select for myself. I choose to have conviction that, at the age of 45, my life has merely reached its halfway point.
Now, let’s say this is true, the implications of this are quite awe-inspiring. Thinking of all I have done in my life, I still have just as much life ahead of me, not just the equal number of days and months and years, but the equal number of experiences too. At 45, I look into the future and see what amounts to a whole second lifetime, as if I get to live all over again, but from a place of greater wisdom and maturity than I’ve ever had before. My heart sings with joyfulness at the recognition of this. I’m nowhere near finished yet.
As much as I have savored the years I’ve spent on this earth, I’m certain that this second life of mine is going to be the better of the two. Here are just some of the reasons why I know this to be true:
In this second life, I will get to raise two sons (now just 2- and 3-years old), to nurture and guide them daily, to marvel at them as they little by little individually evolve into the extraordinary men I know they are already becoming.
I am going to get to live with a heart opened wide, constantly in a state of love for my beautiful wife, a generous partner by my side each and every step of the way, and get to experience the perpetual deepening of our friendship and intimacy.
I’ll get to live every moment with an unwavering sense of purpose, driven by a clarity unlike any I’ve ever had before. I’ll get to stay busy doing work I love, will be able to write a dozen books, help hundreds of clients, transform countless lives, leave a positive imprint on the world.
This time around, I’ll get to live the entirety of this second life of mine with so many things I spent decades searching for during my past one: so much more love, humor, self-knowledge, confidence, maturity, patience, integrity, compassion, wisdom, truthfulness and generosity. What a blessing!
It took 45 years to gather the treasures I hold dear to me now. For the next 45 years, I get to relish them all, and do so fully, every tiny moment of every day.
So, as I am choosing to view it, today is not simply my 45th birthday; it’s actually the day of my birth into a whole new lifetime. Knowing this, I reset the counter to zero, ready to begin, smiling with the greatest sense of excitement and gratitude (and suddenly craving a bottle of warm milk). It is, indeed, a most happy birth day.
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