I turned 38 today. Believe it or not, it’s a number I’ve been thinking about for a few years. I’ll admit though, the reason I’ve had 38 in my mind is a pretty stupid one, or at least an arbitrary one.
There was a guy from the Twin Cities who died in one of the 9/11 incidents; I don’t remember his name, but he was 38 at the time he died. For some reason, out of the thousands of people who died that day, or the multitudes of people who died at any other point in history, I was struck by this guy’s death in a small way. At the time I was 32, and I wondered what it would be like to be dead at 38, to have six years left to live my life and have whatever impact I would have on my family, friends, and the world at large.
Obviously, being dead at 38 is not ideal when the average life expectancy is north of 70. But it’s all relative. If you asked me when I was 18 what I would think if I knew I would die when I was 38, I would probably focus on the 20 years to come and be thankful for them. After all, many people don’t even make it to 38, and that would be enough time hopefully to have a great wife and kids, see some of the world, and perhaps do whatever else it is an 18 year-old me would have thought was important, like lose my virginity.
Thankfully, all of those things happened for me before 38 arrived. And, a lot of great things happened to me in those years between 32 and 38, among them having a wonderful daughter, creating Pipeline, and learning the value of having a job I enjoy.
But now that I’m standing on top of the 38 Mountain, I know now that it’s not enough. I’d like to think that at any point I were to die from here on out I would be able to enjoy the years I lived, instead of the years I hadn’t. I suppose one never knows until that moment comes. But as I sit here today I know what I could not have known at 32, or 18, which is that 38 is not enough. I still have a lot more to give and live, hopefully.
My next target age? 58. That’s how old Paul Wellstone was when he died. His death was a blow to a lot of people for a lot of reasons, but I had the same odd reaction to him that I did with the 9/11 guy. I remember the commentators remarking how “young” Wellstone was when he passed, and at the time I wasn’t sure I bought that. After all, I was only 33 at the time, and getting to 58 seemed like a hell of a lot of living left to do. I mean, Wellstone got 20 years more than the 9/11 guy did!
I guess I’ll judge 58 if and when I get there, but my hope is that when it comes, I also think 58 is not enough.