It’s here and I feel good about it. I suspect that’s due to the fact that, in accounting for Things I Wanted to Do With My Life When I Grew Up, I’ve pretty much hit them all. If you get all your childhood hopes and dreams squared away by your 40th birthday, you really can’t complain, and if you do complain anyway, people are allowed to beat you. I don’t want to be beaten, especially on my birthday.
Truth to tell, the weirdest thing about the birthday is not the whole “dude, you’re 40″ thing, but the fact it’s been rather extended this year. Last week my wife threw me a surprise birthday party, so I got a whole lot of birthday stuff taken care of then, and then yesterday, I had another birthday party of sorts at the Ohioana Book Festival closing reception, where I was given a birthday cake and a whole bunch of authors and librarians sang “Happy Birthday” to me. The interesting thing about that was the location of the reception, which was at the Ohio governor’s mansion. It’s a somewhat surreal thing to go up to the First Lady of Ohio and thank her for letting you use her house for your birthday party (she told me I was welcome).
After all of that, the actual birthday, for which we have nothing at all planned birthday-wise, is likely to be anticlimactic. And you know, I’m okay with that. I think what I actually want to do at this point is think about being 40. I don’t want to make too much of a big deal of it for myself, since in most ways birthdays are arbitrary markers, and the ones ending in “0” are even more so. That said, my 40th coincidentally falls at a point in my life where I happen to be taking a small breather — I don’t have any major projects lined up right this moment, though I suspect I will have very soon, one way or another — and so it’s a convenient day to relax, take stock, take a moment or two (or six) to be thankful for the very fortunate life I’ve had to this point, and then give a little thought about what I want to do with the rest of my life. Mind you, I don’t expect to come up with any answers, and any answers I would come up with would be highly contingent, because life has a funny way of taking your plans and setting them spinning. But just thinking about it all will be a good and useful thing.
To everyone who has already extended me birthday wishes, electronically or in person, thank you from my heart. I have a birthday wish for you too, which is that today is good and joyous day for you, that your life will be happy today, and that you’ll be with people you love and who love you back. I’m getting all those things myself today, you see; it would selfish of me not to wish them for you.