Yesterday, I turned 40 years old. I keep my birthday rather private (it’s not on any social media sites) as I have for the last ten years or so. I’m not entirely sure why I started doing that; perhaps all the good wishes from people I rarely hear from seemed a bit forced. Well, that, and I’ve become something of a fearful invert, avoiding as many occasions of social interactions as possible. It’s not healthy, I know, but that’s a matter for another post.
My two-year-old came home sick from daycare with a fever, eliminating any plans of a birthday dinner, which I wasn’t terribly keen on, anyway. My wife and I had talked about going to a local seafood restaurant that offers a free meal on one’s birthday, but the idea of packing both kids (sick or not) in the car and going to the restaurant, hoping that they would behave and maybe eat something, was not appealing. So I had a very normal night—I made supper, we did our night time routine, and headed off to bed. Before I settled in, I lamented to my wife that I hadn’t written nearly as much as I’d expected to over the last year, or the last decade. “I haven’t been very successful,” I said. She studied me for a moment before saying, “Well, you need to adjust your definition of success.”
That got me thinking about the changes over the last ten years. When I turned thirty, I was living in one city and teaching reading skills to at-risk youth in another. We didn’t have any children. Over the next few years, I taught at many different schools before nearly burning out altogether. Now, as I turn 40, I’m at a school I like, I have two healthy sons, I’ve written a lot of music, and I’m much more comfortable being myself.
I think my wife is right. I can’t hang all my hopes on writing every day (that hasn’t happened in years) or finishing a book, let alone getting published or self-publishing. Perhaps there will be time for that over the next ten years, and perhaps not. As I look at my life going into my 40th year on the planet, I have to say it’s been remarkably successful. I just need to keep reminding myself of that.