I’m turning 40 this week, and I’m still not sure what to do about it. Originally, I wanted to have a big party, a bacchanalian blowout to celebrate the official end of my youth. But then I thought better of the idea. What I really wanted was a childless weekend with my wife away in the Napa Valley. Even one night would be enough, so long as there was time for a soak, a meal, maybe a massage.
This was the plan until a few months ago when my wife was told she had colon cancer and our weekend getaway in wine country took a back seat to everything else.
“We should still do something,” she said the other night at dinner. “You only turn 40 once.”
At this, my older daughter, who is 3½, looked up from her noodles.
“Does 40 mean you die?” she asked.
If she had asked this question a few months earlier, I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about saying, in the age-old way of parents, that Mommy and Daddy are going to be around for a long, long time. But given the circumstances, I felt as though I had to tell her the truth, or at least some approximation of it.
“No one knows when they’re going to die,” I said. Then, not wanting to scare her too much, I added, “But we hope we’re going to be around for a long, long time.”
Actuarially speaking, 40 is smack-dab in the middle of life. It’s the end of the beginning and the beginning of the end. Which is probably why the milestone has so much resonance. The classic midlife crisis — buying a sports car or a boat — may not be as prevalent as it once was. Still, it’s hard to pass by 40 without reflecting on one’s path through life.
For me, turning 40 isn’t about going bald or tallying up my professional accomplishments. It’s a process of coming to terms with the unknown — with the space between “going to” and “hope.” It’s a shift in perspective, moving from my youthful optimism that everything would work out in the end to a tenuous but ultimately richer embrace of uncertainty.
I used to think of adulthood as being something like a romantic comedy from the early ’90s. There are ups and downs, maybe an affair or two, some uncomfortable family dinners. There may be disappointments, a tragedy even, but in the end everything works out.
This hopeful vision persisted through much of my 30s. Through scores of professional and romantic rejections, through draft upon draft of seemingly unfinishable novels, through years of trying to have a baby with my wife, I held onto my fatalistic optimism. I was always able to convince myself that things had worked out for the best, that everything happened for a reason.
Being a novelist — having spent most of my adult life throwing obstacles in front of flawed but ultimately well-meaning characters — I’d like to think I’m pretty good at this kind of retrospective meaning-making, picking out the thread of causality that might explain the larger significance behind a fender bender or a mold infestation in the closet.
As I got closer to 40, however, those bumps in the road became bigger and more difficult to explain. What was the reason for my friend’s debilitating chronic illness? Would it really work out for that couple whose infant died of pneumonia? I found myself working harder to explain the unexplainable. And then, four months ago, any remaining sense of order in the universe was destroyed by my wife’s cancer diagnosis.
I imagine that there are some people who could find meaning in our situation, people who might say that fate or the universe or God’s plan is more complex than we can ever hope to understand. And that’s great. We all make our own meaning. For me, the optimistic fatalism of my 20s and 30s didn’t fit anymore. And so I threw it out.
It’s been liberating in a way, letting go of the idea that there’s a reason for everything. Justifying all that illness and rejection was a lot of work, energy I’d rather spend counting my blessings and making the best of what we’ve been dealt.
These past few months — driving my wife to chemotherapy, talking about mortality and whether I might have time to pick up a gallon of milk that afternoon — I’ve thought a lot about a prayer from the Jewish High Holy Days service, “Unetaneh Tokef,” which Leonard Cohen adapted into the song “Who by Fire.” It’s a long poem, full of fear and trembling, the end of which contains a litany of ways you might die:
Who shall perish by water and who by fire, Who by sword and who by wild beast, Who by famine and who by thirst, Who by earthquake and who by plague.
When I was younger, I thought the prayer was metaphorical. Now, it feels all too real. But it’s oddly comforting, too, to look mortality in the eye. Because none of us really knows how many days we have left, and we have no idea what those days will bring.
I had a dream the other night in which I could see the dark side of the moon. I looked up, and the dark side was as clear as the light. That just about sums it up for me, what turning 40 means. It’s scary to let go of that youthful certainty, but I’d rather embrace the unknown than ignore it. Because no matter how things turn out in the end, I’m going to hug my daughters a little tighter tonight, and when my wife leans her head against my shoulder I’m going to breathe in the smell of her hair a little deeper.
Michael David Lukas is the author of the novel “The Last Watchman of Old Cairo.”
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生财有道 将军造纸【明】【明】【就】【是】【一】【个】【完】【全】【陌】【生】【的】【词】【汇】。 【但】【是】【突】【然】【之】【间】【就】【直】【接】【冒】【到】【了】【脑】【海】【上】【来】，【仿】【佛】【是】【已】【经】【深】【入】【灵】【魂】【的】【习】【惯】。 【可】【是】【当】【突】【然】【冒】【出】【来】【这】【个】【词】【汇】【之】【后】，【聿】【司】【乔】【又】【是】【一】【头】【雾】【水】。 【手】【机】……【到】【底】【是】【什】【么】？ 【聿】【司】【乔】【沉】【吟】【片】【刻】，【看】【向】【了】【那】【传】【信】【的】【小】【兵】，“【除】【此】【之】【外】，【还】【有】【没】【有】【说】【什】【么】？” 【小】【兵】【努】【力】【回】【想】【了】【一】【下】，【还】【是】【摇】【了】【摇】
【转】【眼】，【便】【有】【两】【个】【多】【小】【时】【已】【经】【悄】【悄】【地】【溜】【走】，【王】【冲】【和】【苏】【雪】【两】【人】【顺】【着】【魔】【影】【峡】【谷】【一】【路】【扫】【荡】【了】【过】【去】，【从】【深】【渊】【吞】【噬】【魔】【刷】【到】【了】【深】【渊】【掠】【食】【者】…… 【砰】【砰】【几】【声】，【随】【着】【几】【只】【深】【渊】【掠】【食】【者】【相】【继】【倒】【下】，【苏】【雪】【身】【上】【光】【华】【一】【闪】，【等】【级】【由】【七】【十】【四】【级】【变】【成】【了】【七】【十】【五】【级】。 【王】【冲】【见】【时】【间】【已】【经】【很】【晚】【了】，【便】【回】【身】【对】【苏】【雪】【说】【道】：“【雪】【儿】，【我】【们】【下】【线】【吧】。” 【苏】【雪】
【运】【气】【或】【许】【是】【守】【恒】【的】，【在】【朝】【永】【名】【前】【进】【的】【众】【人】，【终】【于】【发】【现】【了】【一】【些】【不】【一】【样】【的】【东】【西】。 【那】【边】【是】【一】【只】【正】【在】【前】【进】【的】【陈】【朝】【后】【勤】【旅】。 【一】【箱】【又】【一】【箱】【的】【物】【资】【堆】【在】【车】【内】，【庞】【大】【的】【车】【队】【朝】【永】【名】【的】【方】【向】【驶】【去】，【加】【莱】【一】【眼】【便】【能】【够】【判】【断】，【车】【上】【都】【堆】【积】【的】【都】【是】【军】【用】【物】【资】【无】【疑】。 【那】【能】【量】【块】【的】【味】【道】，【逃】【不】【过】【加】【莱】【的】【鼻】【子】。 “【前】【方】【有】【战】【争】。”【加】【莱】【开】
【两】【女】【对】【战】，【而】【且】【这】【两】【人】【都】【是】【美】【女】，【一】【个】【李】【清】【瑶】，【惊】【鸿】【堡】【少】【堡】【主】，【练】【武】【奇】【才】，【长】【相】【惊】【艳】。【而】【洛】【葵】，【身】【份】【成】【迷】，【据】【说】【曾】【打】【败】【过】【吴】【陈】，【长】【的】【也】【不】【比】【李】【清】【瑶】【差】。 【台】【上】【两】【人】，【火】【红】【似】【火】，【白】【衣】【胜】【雪】，【两】【人】【对】【峙】，【谁】【也】【没】【想】【到】【洛】【葵】【一】【上】【台】【李】【清】【瑶】【便】【动】【手】，【而】【且】【手】【段】【极】【狠】，【居】【然】【直】【接】【朝】【着】【人】【脸】【上】【打】！ 【狠】【毒】！ 【这】【一】【鞭】【子】【下】【去】，生财有道 将军造纸【周】【围】【的】【一】【切】【似】【梦】【似】【幻】，【在】【刘】【辰】【的】【思】【绪】【之】【中】，【能】【够】【十】【分】【清】【晰】【地】【察】【觉】【到】【周】【围】【的】【变】【化】，【此】【时】【在】【刘】【辰】【的】【周】【围】，【幻】【境】【之】【中】【奇】【特】【的】【能】【量】，【让】【刘】【辰】【周】【围】【的】【一】【切】，【都】【处】【在】【一】【种】【玄】【妙】【的】【境】【遇】【之】【中】。 【此】【时】【刘】【辰】【闭】【上】【了】【双】【眼】。【眼】【前】【的】【一】【切】，【已】【经】【不】【是】【此】【时】【刘】【辰】【的】【境】【界】【所】【能】【够】【理】【解】【的】，【但】【是】【世】【间】【的】【一】【切】，【必】【然】【不】【可】【能】【完】【全】【没】【有】【漏】【洞】。【大】【道】【万】【千】，
467 【蒂】【文】【斯】【离】【开】【了】，【没】【有】【留】【下】【任】【何】【话】。【没】【有】【要】【求】【自】【己】【是】【想】【留】【在】【地】【球】，【还】【是】【要】【回】【奥】【林】【匹】【克】【星】【球】。【唯】【一】【心】【心】【念】【念】【的】【就】【是】【去】‘【见】’【洛】【雪】【的】【母】【亲】。【他】【临】【死】【前】【像】【个】【怀】【揣】【着】【忐】【忑】【恋】【情】，【担】【心】【表】【白】【后】【会】【被】【心】【系】【女】【孩】【嫌】【弃】【的】【小】【男】【孩】。 【洛】【雪】【很】【难】【过】。【原】【以】【为】【母】【亲】【报】【仇】【之】【后】【她】【的】【心】【里】【会】【很】【痛】【快】，【可】【是】【当】【她】【在】【杀】【母】【凶】【手】-【父】【亲】
【若】【是】【在】【平】【时】，【本】【多】【玛】【肯】【定】【会】【高】【声】【谴】【责】【卡】【斯】【特】【的】【行】【为】，【甚】【至】【将】【其】【定】【义】【为】***，【将】【他】【活】【活】【烧】【死】。 【可】，【现】【在】【不】【行】。 【因】【为】【本】【多】【玛】【发】【现】，【即】【便】【是】【他】【自】【己】，【意】【志】【也】【已】【经】【不】【够】【坚】【定】【了】。 “【不】【如】，【你】【们】【自】【己】【聊】【聊】【吧】。”【诺】【诺】【卡】【说】【着】，【拉】【着】【凌】【珑】【的】【手】【去】【了】【往】【外】【面】。 【本】【多】【玛】【盯】【着】【凌】【珑】【离】【去】【的】【背】【影】，【无】【奈】【地】【叹】【息】【一】【声】。 “
【然】【后】，【某】【个】【沙】【雕】【的】【宿】【主】【就】【开】【始】【了】【漫】【长】【的】【等】【待】【之】【路】，【目】【的】【只】【有】【一】【个】——【等】【待】【洗】【澡】【水】。 【云】【舒】【约】【莫】【着】【已】【经】【过】【去】【了】【两】【个】【小】【时】，【但】【是】【她】【看】【了】【一】【眼】【门】【口】【的】【地】【方】，【还】【是】【啥】【也】【没】【看】【到】，【连】【个】【人】【影】【都】【没】【有】。 【魔】【界】【的】【晚】【上】【黑】【漆】【漆】【的】，【特】【别】【的】【吓】【人】，【有】【一】【种】【到】【处】【都】【有】【别】【人】【的】【冤】【魂】【在】【漂】【浮】【着】【的】【感】【觉】，【她】【捧】【着】【自】【己】【的】【一】【张】【脸】，【感】【受】【着】【四】【周】【传】【过】