40 trips around the sun. Well…this is not exactly how I envisioned my life unfolding. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing but rather that there is no way I could have anticipated the twists and turns that have brought me here. How many people have I been over these 4 decades? To others I’ve been a son, brother, friend, husband, father. How many versions of myself have there been? As I reflect across each decade, I feel I evolve into someone new and different yet strangely familiar to a past self.
It is quite easy to imagine these changes as a child but as an adult, we have a concept of self. Our reality is rooted in this concrete identity of who we are. We base our morals, our ethical framework, our decisions, everything about who we believe ourselves to be on this concept. I don’t believe many people entertain the thought that this profoundly changes and continues to change, thereby repeatedly reshaping the foundation of who we are. We often don’t accept this evolution (or even reversion) because of the daily subtleness of the progression. Only after years can one chose to reflect on this process.
I return to my 20-year-old self and remember a young man that believed he understood the world. He was in love, passionate about everything he encountered and had the world at his fingertips. Everything was black or white, right or wrong with no shades of grey. My 30-year-old self was living the life he wanted to live. Although he had come to the realization that life was not as clear-cut as he once thought. Raising a family and having a meaningful marriage was about sharing oneself, not hiding the imperfections and even acknowledging the darkness within. For him life began to be about the feelings you could create rather than the possessions you could provide.
I’m not sure what to say about my 40-year-old self. I’ve only had a few days to reflect. I’m still in love. I value honest and respectful relationships with everyone in my life. I feel right and wrong is about perspective, not an absolute truth. I’m flawed and sometimes broken. Life changes you and there is no way to stop it. I’m far from what I thought I’d be but I like myself, most of the time. I try to be open to new experiences without timeworn preconceptions. While I greet the change with trepidation, it is also met with excitement. Who will I be when reflecting upon my 50-year-old self?