The number 42 has held powerful sway in my mind ever since a friend got me a copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Galaxy” back when I was 14 or 15. It was actually a volume collecting the first four books in the trilogy and I devoured it, laughing out loud as I read it while sitting on the first floor stairs landing in my parent’s house, exasperated sighs coming from my parents each time I fell into hysterics over something else Douglas Adams had written, some turn of phrase that was wholly different from anything I’d read before, all with a wit that was sharp and yet gentle. It was exactly what I needed and it opened up a world of comedy writing to me I’d previously been ignorant of.
In the series, of course, 42 represents the answer to “life, the universe and everything.” The answer was derived by a long-ago species, thanks to their super-computer Deep Thought, though he admitted he wasn’t super clear on what the question was, though he was still sure of the answer. Deep Thought actually designed our Earth to be the next great computer that would figure out the question and…well…I’ll leave it at that because you need to read it for yourself.
So today I turn 42 and am about as far from having figured out the meaning of life, the universe and everything as I possibly could be.
41 has been a year of changes and transitions. I lost my job and have yet to find another full-time employer, though I’m staying busy with a mix of part-time work at Starbucks and a growing roster of freelance writing projects and clients. The job search is something that’s been disheartening to say the least, as I keep putting myself out there only to hear nothing back and see the same job listed months later, a clear indication that while they haven’t found the right person yet they weren’t even interested in talking to me. That’s been tough to reconcile with the fact that I felt I served my employers and clients well over the last 15+ years. But I guess a lifetime of deferring credit and not wanting to play the “thought leader” game has meant my reputation doesn’t translate well to paper.
My best friend from childhood passed away suddenly and unexpectedly, opening up a sense of loss and regret that I’ve still not fully processed but which lead to reconnecting with old friends who I hadn’t seen for the better part of the last 20 years. I still haven’t found the words to explain what he meant to me for decades or how the knowledge he’s no longer in this world strikes me anew on a daily basis. Maybe I will someday, but not yet.It hasn’t all be bad, though. My family is as strong as it has been as my wife continues to be my better in every possible way and my boys are more fully becoming strong, intelligent, confident, inspiring and kind young men every day.
It hasn’t all be bad, though. My family is as strong as it has been as my wife continues to be my better in every possible way and my boys are more fully becoming strong, intelligent, confident, inspiring and kind young men every day. And hey, the Cubs won the World Series, something even Dear Triumphant Leader Trump won’t be able to overturn.
So today I turn 42. I don’t have the answers. I’ll fight the voices in my head that say if I were stronger, smarter and more of a fighter I’d have more of them figured out, that I’d be more confident if only I were better. I turn 42 confident in the love of my family and the saving grace of God above. I turn 42 and still feel emotionally charged listening to my favorite music. I turn 42 and am more sure that the world has a plan for me that I haven’t figured out yet. I turn 42 and I’m still working it out. Sometimes I put more of the pieces together than others, but every night the puzzle is broken up again and work begins anew the next day. That’s what 42 has in store for me, another Sisyphean year of getting back at it day after day. It’s all I know how to do.