A friend of mine told me that she thinks of turning 40 as beginning a new book. Although she was thinking of the idea as a life comprised of two books, to me this seems like a good way to think about decades–books in a series that make up a life. A series may have common characters, but each volume has different themes, plot twists, and crisis moments. Much like a decade, don’t you think?
This week I turned 39, which opens the final chapter of the book of my 30s. In final chapters, writers close loops, wrap up long-standing conflicts, and underscore themes. And in a series, the end of a book also sets up the next installment. All of those descriptions feel appropriate as I plan for 2018.
My 30s have been full of adventures in finding out who I am, exploring what I want to do professionally, figuring out homeschooling (and how to balance that with work), and building a family. I’ve enjoyed tremendous blessings and suffered significant setbacks, and grown through them all. My outlook is broader. My thinking is deeper.
I’m fascinated by how this drawing down and ramping up are taking shape. After nearly 13 years pregnant and/or breastfeeding, soon I will have more flexibility for travel, more ability to attend work-related events and conferences, and even the chance at more date nights. I’m finally processing some of my health issues and putting common sense plans into place for dealing with them long-term. We’re moving into whole new worlds of independence with the big kids that already have a big impact on how we do school. And all of that opens my mental space up to consider new angles for my work.
In the past couple of years, I’ve been surprised at my need to mourn the end of some 30s themes. It was harder than I expected to finish the baby stage, and simultaneously figure out how to handle pre-teens (I still have not figured this out–good thing I have a year left!). And yet I find that I’m newly energized to tackle age 39. It helps that I think middle age starts at 50, but the prospect of my 40s isn’t phasing me for now. Some things are winding down, but I can see all of these new possibilities opening up, and it will be exciting to see what new themes and challenges are in store.
When patterns are broken, new worlds emerge.
I had that Tuli Kupferberg quote on my wall in college. I still have no idea who Tuli is, but the quote still seems apt. So here’s to the winding down and opening up–the denoument of a decade and the foundation of the next!
Do you see your decades as books? If you’re just beginning or ending one, are different themes opening up?