I turned 42 last week, and I'm not sure what to make of that. I'm obviously open about my age, but when my friend Jane from MidLifeBloggers said on my Facebook, "Ain't the 40s great?", it felt weird. There's no denying I'm there, but I don't have any of the big things I don't care about - house, kids - nor any of the big things I do care about - profitable directing career, partner. Add to that the fact that I decided upon arriving in Los Angeles to whenever possible consider my life and my decisions as though I was 10 years younger than I am, and that I don't dye my gray hair, and you've got one somewhat chaotic 42-year-old.
I do think it's a pretty cool number (I like numbers divisible by 3), and I was happy to be having my Douglas Adams birthday. 42 being the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything, according to The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. 42 feels better than 40. 40 was fun, but it felt surprising to be there, if birthdays that come every year can ever feel surprising.
I feel wiser at 42 than ever before, at least when I'm not feeling completely clueless, as though everything I've learned has abandoned me. We never lose the ability to be a dumbass, I think.
My year this year has turned out to have the theme of "patience."
Patience in this context is not patience in the sense of waiting for something to happen or for something to go away. Patience, like all of the far-gone actions, takes place in the present moment. Patience here means not pushing our experience away, whether it be pleasurable or painful. The discomfort of pain arouses aggression in the sense that we want to push it away. Patience is the opposite of aggression. It is nonaggression, which means experiencing whatever is present and not rejecting it. -Moh Hardin, A Little Book of Love
This is definitely at the forefront of my journey these days. I have been enjoying many moments, even as forward movement on the things that are important to me feels painfully stagnant. As though I am caught in a delightful and very, very thick mud bath.
Here's some progress: I don't want children. That's taken 42 years to say, so straightforwardly.
Because for as long as I can remember, there is this thing I was taught and internalized long ago. That women naturally want children, and that someday I would wake up, change my mind, and regret. There was a clock, and it was ticking, even if I couldn't hear it.
These days, even the concept of that series of events makes little sense to me. That I would regret instead of honoring my choices and accepting my life in any given day, even if something inside me had changed.
I don't want children, and when I think about the fact that I've spent my entire life giving energy to the thought that magically one day that would change - well, I spent one moment wondering how life would have been different without that constant caveat. How would a honest and straightforward acceptance and communication of this fact have effected my love life and my career? How does this internalized message about my life and my value as a woman continue to affect me? Yet, it is what it is. We grow when we are ready.
And, more than ever before, I am free. Our biological clocks will do what they will, but I no longer believe in a clock that will make me suddenly want to be a mother more than I want to be a director, and make me look at my life's work, such that it is at any given point, and regret that I never had something that I didn't want in the first place.
Directing is what gives my life meaning. That's who I am, even if my projects remain small and far between.
...we can discover this meaning in life in three different ways: (1) by creating a work or doing a deed; (2) by experiencing something or encountering someone; and (3) by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering. -Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
Some believe that a statement like Viktor Frankl's above, doesn't fully apply to women. Because, men are full persons, and women are women. The rules are different for us, some think.
But, I am a person, and I was immensely gratified to read this statement of the breadth of ways we find meaning in life, the many options we have as humans. And I am a person with a very full life that has no room or desire to raise children. I live my life for the opportunities to create films, and web series, and in my dreams, television or features. Big, action packed features that cause giant billboards to go up, and viewer's hearts to race.
I don't dream of the pitter patter of little feet, I dream of the day when I have one job that is directing I can fully immerse myself in, and I cherish the opportunities to work my ass off directing while holding down a full-time office job, because if that's how it has to be, then I just have to make the choices I can, and gather all my knowledge and stamina and passion and make it happen.
I am a filmmaker.
That's my 42.