The other day I pulled an old box of souvenirs from a shelf in my closet. My daughter needed a few things for a school presentation, but in addition to the items she needed, I found an old journal of mine.
The pages were yellowing and exuded that musty smell that only comes from the pages of a dusty old book. I thumbed through the various entries I penned over thirty years ago, and it brought back a flood of emotion. I felt all of the anxiety and uncertainty associated with those first few years when you leave home. I read about fun times with friends, trouble with school, and the roller coaster of emotions caused by relationships. I read through my struggles as a missionary and all the people that touched my life. Some of it made me laugh. Some of it made me cry. Some of it needs to be ripped from the journal and burned before anyone else reads it.
On my twentieth birthday, I was in Carmelo, a small coastal town in Uruguay, serving as a missionary, and Branch President. Based on my entries, I was struggling under a heavy load, and very inexperienced at life. On March 6, 1983, I wrote, “Time is a real paradox; you never have enough, yet there is always a little to kill.” As I turn fifty, I couldn’t agree more. Time is an irreplaceable commodity that we often misuse.
Each decade of my life has been full of challenges and accomplishments. As I turned twenty, I was concerned about choosing the right path for my life. As I turned thirty, I was concerned about providing and caring for the children entrusted to my care. When I turned forty, I didn’t know what to expect. I worried that it might all be downhill from there. Now that I have finished my forties, I must admit that they were good years. It was a decade of accomplishment.
Since I turned forty –
My wife and I adopted two daughters from Russia. When you are driving down the street with your former enemies’ castaways seated comfortably in your new minivan, you won that war.
I bought and paid off a new minivan – not exactly a small feat if you have priced minivans lately.
I ran two marathons. I might have run a couple more, but I got sidetracked with the adoption and back surgery.
I survived a serious back injury and back surgery. I don’t help people move any more, even though I have a truck.
I bought and paid for a new truck. It wasn’t quite as expensive as the minivan, but then again the minivan can’t pull a boat.
I bought a boat. Well, everyone is entitled to a mid-life crisis in their forties. The boat is a beautiful red and black, and it was much cheaper than the mistress, and subsequent divorce that follows. Besides, I share the boat with some great friends.
I made a lot of new friends, and strengthened old friendships. That is not an easy task for a guy that travels for a living and prefers to be alone, but I managed to make friends with some of the best people in the world. I think it’s because of my very friendly wife.
I stayed married to the same woman. Judging from all the sad divorces I have witnessed, I would say that staying married wasn’t an easy task. Unfortunately, I would attribute most of the marital bumps in our road to my personality.
I struggled with the same weaknesses that have plagued me for years. I would like to say that I have overcome many of them, but then I would have to add lying to my list of weaknesses. I still struggle with anger, selfishness, jealousy, and sometimes I allow myself to slip into a state of melancholy. I continue to work on my weaknesses.
I took piano lessons and learned to play basic songs on the piano, but then promptly gave it up for a new hobby that captured my passion.
I started writing. Out of arrogance, I decided that I would write a novel. Who knew how difficult that would be? As of this blog, I haven’t published a novel, but I have written two manuscripts that are being shopped around. I did manage to publish a couple of small essays.
I started this blog. It has been fun and interesting putting my thoughts out there for the world to see. I have been cautious about baring too much of my soul, but I have enjoyed sharing bits of my life through this unique forum.
When I was twenty, forty seemed so far away, and I was certain that the best years of my life would be behind me by my fortieth birthday. Most of my fears about my forties were unfounded, and I look back on the journal entries of my twenty-something self and laugh. My forties were good years. I think of all the decades I have lived so far, I would prefer to repeat my forties more than any other decade.
Now that I am turning fifty, I recognize even more that time is a precious commodity. If I’m going to kill time, I want to work it to death while engaged in some cause worthy of the seconds, minutes, and hours that I will never regain.