By Marco L. Cosby
4.0. F-O-R-T-Y. FOUR DECADES. Yep, it happened to me - the big 40.
Time. The ticking of the clock is seldom noticed in a world filled with laundry, after school snacks and children’s laughter. But its there, quietly ticking away the second, minutes and hours of a life. Then in the wee hours of the morning after bedtime stories and one more kiss, time rears its ugly head as the tocks grow louder, more insistent. Before you know it time appears to stand still, then without warning passes you by like a car in the Indianapolis 500. It barrels by engines roaring, screeching the corner turn and all you can do is watch, jaw on the ground, hoping to get out of the way. But its too late, at 200 mph it hits you -hard. The number 40 crashed into me like no other force I have ever experienced and I have the skid marks and bumper bruises to prove it - OUCH!
It’s not the number 40 that bothers me. By itself the number 4 is a nice, even number and 0, well it can be good or bad depending. Zero calories are good, but losing a tennis match 0-6 isn’t. But the two numbers together add up to a potentially life altering sum: the sum of a life. And who said math wasn’t any fun? This however depends on your perspective. It isn’t a mere number that changed me, it was the timeline. History is a much more interesting subject.
According to my personal timeline, I’m at the halfway mark. In football lingo I’m midfield, end of the second quarter. It’s almost halftime and a revised game plan is in order, more like an imperative. I apologize for the sports analogies, must be a tad too much testosterone in my hormone supplement. According to the latest research a woman lives to an approximate age of 76.3 years. That taken in to account, I have approximately 36.3 years left to live. If I start my career now, I might enjoy twenty to thirty years as a career woman before I start with the long list of maladies that will make it physically and/or mentally impossible to have a career. Being a woman, I might outlive my spouse by 2-3 years. Then it is time to celebrate! Get out the party hats and confetti; I mean realistically what am I going to do with all that freedom? Wonder what obscenely young stud would want to do with an aging grandmother. But that’s a spin for another time.
Being at the halfway point of my life I am embarking on a new career, with the enthusiasm of a 20 year old, but the wisdom of well, someone older. I never dreamed of beginning a career at this age. For all intensive purposes, the dream at 40 was supposed to be an established reality.
At 24, my dream was a bud of realism centered around the fantasy of California- Los Angeles to be exact. Surrounded by the glamour and ugliness of the Hollywood lifestyle I breathed it all in, filling every ounce with the possibility of pursuing the dream. The chronic cough of smog filled air brought me back to reality, all the while actively pursuing my dream of becoming a writer.
Making the connections, networking, working the grungy day like a million other Angel City hopefuls; I was making my way. Then it happened. One night. One phone call. Enter life and her unburdening desire to turn your world, your piece of heaven, upside down. A decision was made. Not out of obligation or responsibility, but with compassion and love. A move back home to take care of my rapidly declining father, a man who taught me by his example, that family is the greatest gift.
Love. It’s a crazy unpredictable thing. Love brought me back to my father and his love kept me there. Before I realized it was happening, life gave a smirk in my direction, meeting the man I would eventually marry. Of course, since then my smile has broadened, two kids equally engaging, a third if you count my husband. My life was unfolding in an entirely new direction; a direction I hadn’t thought about, a direction, like a compass, I would be lost without. Between the diapers, burps and hugs, there was something missing. Some tiny unfulfilled part that nagged like a persistent ache, a pebble in a shoe, a longing for something more. Maybe it was heartache, maybe intellectual deprivation; whatever it was, the day of my fortieth birthday it increased, intensified, approaching the realm of pain; a realization that time was of the essence.
So here I sit typing my way to my first published article, a dream once kept at bay by eagerness to engage in the masterful world of motherhood and Suzy homemakership; crumbled, becoming more clear with each passing day. Now, it was more a mantra to write, to get out all those articles, essays, and dramas locked inside. No longer under the guise of medicinal purposes or sanity, it is now a matter of life and death. Life for the writer I long to be, death to the insecurities which haunt me with every stroke of the keyboard, every letter, every syllable.
To live life for the moment, not by basking in glory or padding the bank account, but leaving my mark on the world, a scribbling of letters spelling out WRITER for all to read; evidence in black and white of a fulfilled dream, a destiny completed. One you yourself autograph. Sometimes you know in your heart where you are meant to go and what you are meant to do. For some, it takes longer to defy the pull of life and to set a different course, to live outside of ordinary boundaries. For some, it takes an act of courage to squelch the naysayer, even if the drowning voice is in your own head. For some, it takes a deep breath to blow out forty flaming candles, the miracle of a vastly significant birthday to make a change.
The party hats are on, the balloons are floating, the cake is on fire: happy birthday to me. I am forty and I embrace all that comes my way. This is my time. This is the chapter in my life that I will write myself, not left to others as an unauthorized depiction of goals not attained, dreams not fulfilled. I write this chapter without negativity, insecurity, self-doubt or agenda. This is just the beginning of a career, a journey to a more balanced and evolved individual, the beginning of my life at forty. Want proof? You’re reading it.
Marco L. Cosby is a married mother of two, who at 40 begins her writing career. This will be her first published work. Contact Marco.