(taken at the American Cemetery in Luxembourg, where General Patton is buried. Click here for a larger view)
I turned 4o today. And at first I thought I should spend some time reflecting over the past 40 years of my life. But as I sat down to write this post, I didn’t feel like looking back. The past is history baby. Gone. Done. Finished. I think it’s cool to learn from the past otherwise you’re doomed to repeat it. But to spend time dwelling in a nostalgic haze wistfully thinking about all the places and faces that have floated in and out of my life over the past 40 years, would be wasting time I could be using to enjoy the present moment.
I’m very much looking at 40 as a rebirth. The half-time show is over. My inner coach has given me a kick-ass pep talk in the locker room and now I am ready to go out on the field and play hard and fast, crossing my bridges when I come to them and burning them behind me. Okay maybe not quite so ferocious as that, but definitely intense and focused. I guess the natural question would be: “Focused on what?” And my answer is: Focused on the art of living by living every moment of every day fully awake and free.
To be awake is to be alive. And I must learn to reawaken and keep myself awake, not by mechanical aids as Thoreau says, “but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep.”
One of my first tasks is to simplify my life, to let go of things I’ve been hanging onto for years that act as anchors to my past. To sail free, I have to lose the anchors. I know I am quoting heavily from Thoreau these last couple of posts, but as he was one of my travel companions on my road trip, I learned a lot from him. And he says that a person is rich and free “in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone.” So today, the first place I am starting is with my desk, which is cluttered with stuff both on top and in the drawers. To be cliche about it, “out with old, in with the new.” Whatever “new” is.
As for my 40th birthday celebration, it will be a quiet one. Tonight I will have dinner with my family. Nothing fancy. After 3 weeks without a proper hamburger, I have a hankering for a TGIF Ultimate Burger to make up for my burger abstinence on the road. Oh and I also have this odd compulsion to splash into a cold lake to symbolize my rebirth and then spend a night alone on a mountain…man-style.