educator, writer, speaker, devoted family man, amateur philosopher, chess enthusiast, basketball junkie, connoisseur of fine hip hop, and purveyor of wit and wisdom
Last week, a colleague and good friend, Daniel, and I were walking on campus toward the cafeteria. As we approached the building, he said, “You have a birthday coming up soon on the 30th, right?”
“Yep,” I said. “I’ll be 42.”
“Forty-two,” he said. “So you’re finishing your sixth cycle.”
“What do you mean?”
Then Daniel took his right index finger and tapped his forehead and then the top of his head. He looked at me silently. When I didn’t respond, he did it again, tapping his forehead and then the top of his head.
“I don’t get it,” I said. “What’s that?”
“It’s your third eye and your crown. Chakras. A person changes every seven years. You’re finishing up your sixth cycle of life. Forty-two is the year when wisdom meets spirituality.”
Daniel has an incredible memory like a steel trap, and to this day, he is the most erudite man I know. When I made it to my office a little while later, I did a Google search to find out what he was talking about. This is what I found:
(It may be hard to read, so click HERE to see the full page.)
I’ve been sitting alone with my thoughts a whole lot lately (no surprise there), and this past year has been pretty monumental for me. The reason is because, about seven months ago, I made the decision to become an English professor.
My entire professional career has been in the field of education (I first began as a classroom teacher 18 years ago.) The issue is that 20 years ago, I earned my undergraduate degree in English with the hopes of moving on to an MFA program somewhere for creative writing. That never happened. Instead, I began teaching middle school and high school math (courtesy of a math minor and a math teaching credential.)
The point of all this is that it wasn’t until seven months ago that I remembered my earlier dream of being a writer and pursuing the profession full time. Now that my graduate degrees qualify me to teach college English, I decided to launch the next phase of my life, teaching writing by day and working on my own writing at night.
Now that I’m in the English classroom, I am having an amazing semester. I’ve worked on this campus for eight years, and this has been the best semester I’ve had by far.
Birthdays do this to me. I find myself sitting and evaluating the goals from the past twelve months, and I look ahead at the goals for the coming twelve months. My goals as a writer haven’t changed over the past few years: I’ve always wanted to publish a book of poetry, publish a novel, publish a non-fiction book, and publish a collection of short stories. So far, I’ve only published the poetry, but the non-fiction book should be finished this summer, then the novel shortly after that.
I think I’m going to enjoy this year being 42. I’m already loving 42, not only because it’s the answer to life, the universe, and everything, but because I’m finally in a really good place in my life. My family is good, my career is good, I love the people in my life, I’m in good health and in relatively decent shape, I have a small, but nice collection of classic jazz albums on vinyl, I know how to properly cook a medim-done ribeye steak, I know what fine scotch is supposed to taste like, my oldest son is about to bridge over from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts next month, my youngest son can now wipe his own butt, and my wife doesn’t roll her eyes at me anymore. My vices are few (junk food, online chess, and always having to be right), and my virtures are noble (patience, compassion, humor, humility, and always having to be right).
So, 42 is a good number for me right now. I think I’ll hang on to this for a while.