Forty.

40. 4-D. Two score. Four dimes. Over-the-hill. The mid-point. Intermission. Halftime. On the flip side. The start of Act II. The third quarter. Entering my fifth decade. Coasting downhill. Past my prime. The dawn of middle age. The beginning of the end.

Yes, it’s true. I recently passed the arbitrary milestone that carries with it enough gravitas and gloom to bring even the most spry and vigorous traveler to at least a brief period of introspection, if not melancholy.

Truthfully, becoming a quadragenarian did weigh on me some. Not so much for the age or the number itself (such trivialities as round numbers do not impress me), but rather in examination of my life and how, on the surface at least, I largely am right where I was a decade ago.

I entered my thirties living in the same house in the same city in the same job with the same company in which I find myself now. I had an unfinished novel at the time, and I still have one (albeit, a different one). And while I have much to show for that same decade—in knowledge, and love, and friendship, and maturity, and wisdom, and experience, and even writing—it is also a stone cold reminder how fleeting time can be and, when our daily schedules and surroundings remain unchanged, how quickly we can lose awareness of its passing.

In addition to that realization, it also was just over a year ago that, creatively charged after my trip to the Writer’s Workshop, I boldly purposed to have this novel drafted as a 40th birthday present to myself.

Well, the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men…

I know this process alone has been worthwhile and the choices, good news, and life-events that ensued after I set my ambitious goal have understandably extended that self-imposed and arguably unrealistic timeline indefinitely. Nevertheless accountability, especially to oneself, is a virtue we should all strive to achieve, and in missing my “deadline” I fear it may lead to recidivism; a prolonged cycle of startings and unfinishings.

I’m 40 now. I just can’t have that.

What is interesting is that, at this age well-known for uncertainty and “crises” as it were, I find a distinct parallel between my life’s path and destination, and my novel and where it is bound. I suppose this only makes sense. If I’m feeling unsure and timid about what I’ve done with my life and where I am going, it stands to reason my story and writing would similarly suffer.

Fortunately, for once writing a novel may be the solution rather than the problem. See, this is the part where our protagonist starts to change. He begins to find his purpose; he rises up to face of his demons and he charges ever onward into the great unknown. He renews his sense of purpose. He perseveres. He determines his path and walks forward, hopefully on to victory and success.

So having crested the hill and looked both forward and back, I find myself on the flip side with a warmed heart, a softened disposition, and a renewed sense of realistic, more deliberate purpose.

In quoting the late Robin Williams (as Jack Keating), “Carpe. Carpe Diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary!”

Or, in the vernacular (if more vulgar), as Morgan Freeman so eloquently states (as Ellis Boyd Redding), “Get busy living, or get busy dying. That’s God damn right.”

It’s time to muster the courage, the passion, the skill, and the purpose, brush all those questions, disappointments, and hindering thoughts aside and pick up where I left off. Sally forth, and the words, characters, and story will flow once again.

I’ve been preparing for this for forty years. Time to get busy…living.

Write on.

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