So here’s a fun fact.
If you ask the Google machine what the answer to life, the universe, and everything is, the answer you get is 42.
That’s right, forty-two.
Of course, as any sci-fi fan knows, the search result is a nod to the classic Douglas Adams novel, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — the same book that gave us one of my favorite lines, “So long, and thanks for all the fish!”
The gist is that, in the book, some characters ask an enormous supercomputer named Deep Thought for the answer to the Great Question, and 7.5 million years later, after computing and checking the answer, Deep Thought finally says 42, “with infinite majesty and calm.”
Apparently, Adams meant this as a joke, but 42 isn’t just any ole number. It actually has great significance … and, coincidentally enough, it’s the same number of years that, as of today, I have been alive.
By extension of logic (maybe), I’m choosing to believe that my birthday, the oft–referred to “day of all days,” is everything. It’s the answer. So now, simply by virtue of turning 42 years old, I am in possession of the meaning of life. How cool! What a great gift that is.
But here’s the thing: Not everyone has the same view as Adams. James Taylor, for one, has a different opinion on the secret of life. In one of his most memorable songs, Taylor sings that it’s simply “enjoying the passage of time.”
If there’s one thing I’ve gotten good at over these past 42 years, it’s doing just that. And over the course of my last lap around the trail of life, there was lots of good time to enjoy. There were trips to Colorado, Chicago, Cleveland, Las Vegas, Florida, and of course, New York. There were dates. There were good movies. There was lots of good music. We celebrated family milestones like my dad’s 70th birthday and my nephews’ 5th. I made some strong relationships even stronger (online and off). My employer was acquired. I ran (some of) my first 5K. And, most recently, I had a great time at my 20-year college reunion.
At 42, I’m not married or a parent or a community leader or a director or VP at work, and there’s still plenty I want to do with my life. But as I’ve said before, perspective is important. I know I’m doing better than I think I am and I still have plenty of time left.
And Taylor backs up this thinking: “The thing about time is that time isn’t really real,” he sings. “It’s just your point of view; how does it feel for you?”
But wait a second. Where does that leave me with understanding the secret and meaning of life? I’m confused.
So, as I begin my “42” year, I’ll have to split the difference: I hope the next 12 months will be everything — but regardless, I’m just going to enjoy the ride.
Happy birthday to me!
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