Tomorrow I turn 40. I don’t know that I’m reacting at all. Maybe part of getting older is that these milestones mean less than they did. That sounds right.
I’ve been thinking about the concept of legacy lately. I recently watched a talk by an older woman who had been diagnosed with cancer and knew she would be dying soon. She didn’t want a legacy; she was so excited to return to the Earth, to be a part of the natural world. She talked about how beautiful that was. That really resonated with me and I had never heard anyone talk about it like that before. I find that I want both.
I’ve been working on my family tree for the past couple of years. It’s fascinating to discover these people from the past, people whose existence influences my life in ways I will never understand. They would have passed on lessons to their children, and those children to theirs, and so on. How far back would I have to go to find the genesis of my belief in fairness, my general work ethic, and my independent spirit? What would I find that wouldn’t be passed on? It’s such an interesting space to live in.
I have no children. Does that mean I will have no legacy? I admit that it is hard to see a situation three generations from now where there are descendants of my brothers working on their own genealogy and giving much thought to their distant uncle. But I do that for my own tree. Some of the most interesting people I find on my own tree are those who did not have children of their own. That is at least a little bit comforting. And I hope they find me interesting.
That isn’t at all to write off having children of my own. I still want that. I’m not sure at what age it becomes a selfish pursuit, but I don’t think forty is it. I make many excuses, but adoption is something I should really think about.
I’ll be forty tomorrow, and I’ve been talking about the loss of my youth. I don’t actually believe that. I think I’m trying to convince myself somehow that I have to grow up now. Most days I feel like I’m twenty, but I have days when I feel sixty.
I thought I would be panicky, but I’m not. I thought I would be coupled, but I’m not. I thought I would be settled, but I’m not. I thought I would be a lot of things. But I am where I am. And I’m okay with that.