Thoughts on 43
Today I turn 43.
I’m marking the occasion in usual fashion, with one exception. I chose to spend the few days leading up to and following my birthday staying with friends in the remote volcanic forest landscape of Ocean View on the Big Island of Hawaii. Perhaps its unsurprising that this is the first travel of any kind I’ve done the end of 2019 before COVID-19 forced a shuttering of the world.
Life, the Universe, and Everything
I might say that 42 was the hardest year of my life, with the exception of my last year of college when it felt like the world (and my brain) betrayed me. If you’re both bored and curious, you can find details about that last year of college in my Chronicles Journal.
42 saw the worst part of the COVID-19 global pandemic, personal financial woes, and perhaps the most stressful and terrible legislative session I have experienced in my 15 some-odd years of political work.
Douglas Adams’ Deep Thought proclaimed the answer to “life, the universe, and everything” to be “42”. While I don’t necessarily subscribe to numerology or other predictive systems, as I sit and ponder the beginning of my 43rd year of life, I couldn’t help but turn my thoughts to “42” and contemplate the last year of my life.
2020 might turn out to be the last year I do work under the Beretania Consulting banner; it was a colossal personal financial failure. I don’t necessarily regret the choice I made to leave a cushy, well-paying job in the Governor’s Office, but I also cannot deny how much I have struggled in the few years since. I’ll keep all the business accounts active and current, because you never know. In the meantime, I’m happy to have steady, reliable income.
Choices & Consequences
Much to the chagrin of my father and grandparents (when they were alive), I’ve never been terribly interested in money. I can’t recall a single choice I’ve made in my life that prioritized money. From my choice of relatively useless undergraduate degrees, to my relocation to Hawaii and subsequent career choices, I’ve opted for a level of happiness and meaningful work as opposed to the size of my paycheck, savings, or retirement.
Short-sighted? Maybe. My father would almost certainly say so. But for as long as I can remember, I’ve never understood spending 40 hours a week in a job you don’t care about. Or worse, a job that you hate, in exchange for a paycheck.
Now, I fully acknowledge it’s a trade off and, to some extent, a choice of convenience not available to everyone.
I have no family to support or a mortgage to worry about, so my financial obligations are somewhat more flexible than many of my friends and my siblings.
I also haven’t held a job longer than six or seven years since I hit adulthood. My time in the Governor’s Office might hold the record as I write this. And I’ve seen some form of personal financial collapse at least twice in that time.
Shortly after moving to Hawaii, I enrolled in a debt consolidation program to settle considerable personal debt. It took five years and wrecked my credit, but I came out the other side wiser about how to smartly manage my finances. Then 2020 came and I saw my consumer debt explode (that’s aside from the large sum I borrowed for graduate school).
About a year later I’m about to complete bankruptcy proceedings in the hopes of coming out the other side with a sort of financial reset.
I’m not necessarily complaining here. Mine are almost certainly “first world problems” and despite the difficulty I’ve had, I generally consider myself lucky.
Sure I’m relatively poor, don’t own any property and have no family or prospect of a romantic relationship. On the other hand, I live in one of the most special places in the entire fucking world and I’ve been mostly fortunate to work in a field that I genuinely enjoy (and might actually be good at).
Though I don’t deny the future possibility of owning my own home or the possibility of meeting someone I want to spend the rest of my life with (or, perhaps more accurately, someone who wants to spend the rest of their life with me), I remain quite fortunate.
I’ve never really wanted for anything in my life. And that remains true today. Yes, I struggle with weird anxiety and low-grade depression, as well as chronic, incurable illness, but when I look around I still can’t help but feel fortunate.
I don’t know what the meaning of life is. And I’m not sure that it really matters.
For me it about seeking happiness and doing your part to leave the world better than you found it. I struggle with both those goals, but as long as that’s what drives me, I feel like I’m heading in the right direction.
Who the hell knows what 43 has in store for me, but I think I’m ready for whatever it might be.