A friend recently sent me an invitation to her 'four-oh god' celebration and I was impressed by her wit, because 'oh god' is exactly what it feels like. I was not at all fazed by turning 30, but facing 40 last week required a hefty deep breath. My fragile grandmother always used to say she felt no different inside to when she was 21, but that her body was wearing out. While I am not quite falling apart yet, I now understand her sentiment about the mind . . . and the soul. The ticking years make one wiser (hopefully) and less naive, but they do not alter the fundamental essence of who one is.
Despite this, I have observed a pattern developing across the four decades of my life so far: the tendency to throw myself intensively into endeavours for ~10 years and then stop, reassess and redefine myself. There were the 10 years of school at St Michael's, followed by 11 years of university, and then 10 years as a technology communications consultant. I emerged from each of these experiences like a creature from a chrysalis -- transformed (& mildly bruised), desperate to shed the old life and embrace the new.
Since my early twenties a significant constant, however, has been writing. In fact, the desire to write with greater yield/commitment/skill/reward underpinned the great shakeup of my 30s, and is also at the heart of my current career realignment. I think the difference now is that I am prepared to make more sacrifices and have a better understanding of the tough work and dogged perseverance that is required. My 30s were probably my journeyman years, during which I learnt about the industry, embraced the community and honed my skills. Now I'm determined to graduate.
So I threw a party on the weekend to celebrate many things: the significant oh-god birthday, the new era of my life, the fact that I will soon have a finished novel . . . and because I wanted to consume some of the accumulating wine stores in my closet!
I don't know whether the 10-year cycle will continue -- I rather hope not, because facing 'the great unknown' can be exhausting and not a little scary. But it's also exhilarating to break out of the mould and feel the fear. Everything becomes new again and the possibilities are endless. And besides, when one isn't working, one can participate in regular mid-week pub writing gatherings. Any excuse to drink wine!