Test Drive – From Zero to 40

Last night, as I neared sleep, I had started to sink into self-misery.  My life has been taking turns I haven’t necessarily been pleased with.  But as I lay there, a mental reflex kicked in, something I truly believe I wouldn’t have experienced twenty, ten, even five years ago.  My mind made a pleasant yet surprising leap.  “Just chill, Sean, it’ll work out,” my mind told me.  I was pleased with this.  And i slept.

This was a mental reflex based on age and experience.  I acknowledged that, at 40, I was able to do this.  In fact, every age really teaches us something, doesn’t it?  I felt I needed to reflect on this, for no reason other than self-confirmation.


AGE FIVE:  What can I say about five?  Here we have the three C’s: cartoons, candy, and carefree.  What else, really, is there?

AGE TEN: Ah, ten.  This was the first instance of understanding the struggle my mother went through for my sister and I.  Money, I learned, didn’t grow on trees.  That year I begged, and begged, and begged for my mother to buy me a Transformer toy.  Bumblebee, I’ll never forget it.  “I’m sorry, Sean, I just don’t have the money.”  She had to tell me this several times.  It took a while to sink in.  Her tone, finally, drove the point home; harsh, insistent, near tears.  I’ll never forget it.  Ever.

AGE FIFTEEN: My father had been gone for some time.  My mother had remarried, and I hated it.  My stepfather, I believed, was a tyrant.  A military man.  Despite the vitriol in my veins, I saw that my mother needed someone, just as my sister and I needed her.  I acquiesced, and managed to be civil, because I recognized my mother’s need for love.  It was the first time I understood how painful it could be to be alone in this world.

AGE TWENTY: Life is responsibility.  Life is working for what you want.  Life is a struggle.  Twenty was a year after a horrific, life-changing car accident.  I realized, at twenty, that the universe is unforgiving.  It’s a merciless thing.  The universe works with you if you work with it.  Nothing was going to be handed to me.  EVER.

AGE TWENTY-FIVE: I deserved love.  I deserved to be an openly gay man in a world that might not ever accept that.  I could be myself and never apologize for it.  There was nothing easy about this, accepting love; it was a mountain to be moved, a lion to be tamed.  I met the Love of My Life at 25 – Keith – and I’m still learning about it to this day.

AGE THIRTY: I was thrilled that my twenties were over.  Despite the learning curve, my twenties were claustrophobic and unyielding.  I felt like it was one lesson after another.  Thirty helped me embrace freedom.  Freedom from judgment.  Freedom from simply throwing up my hands and giving in.  At 30, I began to understand it was important to think for myself, and not what others expected from me.

AGE THIRTY-FIVE: Life offers zero apologies.  ZERO.  There are no expectations, because no matter what I thought should happen, or might happen, the complete and utter opposite is what did happen.  And this is fine.  The distinction here isn’t that the unexpected happened, it’s that I was able to deal with it.  Not happily, mind you, but dealt with nonetheless.

AGE FORTY: Life will change on a dime, and this is ok.  Delilah came in to my life when I was 37, and by 40 she has made me understand that I will forever be facing challenges.  I lost my car.  I have several health problems that, at 20, I never would have anticipated.  The career with Starbucks I thought was going to work in my favor turned out to be a joke.  My interpreting career didn’t take a back seat, but I opened the passenger door and kicked its ass into oncoming traffic.  Friends and family have questioned my choices, my decisions.  I find myself stressing when I shouldn’t be.  And you know what: IT’S MY LIFE AND NO ONE ELSE’S.  That’s what 40 has taught me.

…and, if I’m lucky, I’ll be learning a LOT more in the oncoming years.


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