Farewelling My Forties


The sun has set. It’s gone down on a decade. The sun has gone down on my forties.

The sunset in the photo above is the one I witnessed as my family and I returned from an almost three hour long whale watching cruise. We travelled from a riverside jetty near the mouth of the Murchison River in Kalbarri, past some small waves and out into the open seas to see some humpback whales swimming off the coast.

As we made our way back to the jetty I looked behind us towards the sea. The sun was getting lower in the sky. It dropped slowly at first and then it seemed to pick up speed as it dipped into the ocean, lighting up the sky.

I realised that this would be the final time I would see a sunset while still in my forties. Tomorrow I’ll be fifty.

Tomorrow the sun will rise, just as on any other day. The world won’t change. I won’t feel dramatically different yet there is still something in those significant birthdays that cause us to look back and look ahead.

When did you last celebrate a ‘significant’ birthday? Did it feel the same as any other day or did it feel somehow different? What did you do to mark the occasion?

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What is it about certain time periods that add extra significance to remembering our life history? Why do we celebrate milestones differently to anniversaries of events in other years?

I clocked up another year of life a couple of months ago but it wasn’t a milestone birthday. Next year, however, I’ll be hitting the half century so I’m already starting to think about what I need to do in the coming months to reach that occasion in better than reasonable shape.

While my birthday this year wasn’t a milestone, 2012 is a significant milestone year for other reasons.

Next month it’ll be 25 years since I first cycled across Australia, riding about four and a half thousand kilometres in five weeks to make my way from Perth to Canberra. I’ve cycled across the Nullarbor another four times since then but that first trip was obviously a significant life event. Each of those rides was part of Australia’s Bike for Bibles program which began in 1984, and that first ride in 1987 was the first ever crossing of Australia by a Bike for Bibles team.

It was 20 years ago last month that I flew out from Perth to go cycling amongst the Rocky Mountains in Canada. It was a short trip but I was there for the first ever Canadian Bike for Bibles ride. I was part of a small group of Aussies who made the journey to commence something wonderful in an amazing country.

While those milestones are significant, they don’t even begin to compare with three other events that changed my world irrevocably for the better back in 1992.

Event One: Twenty years ago, at the beginning of 1992, I met the most amazing woman I have ever known.

Event Two: Later in 1992 she agreed to marry me.

Event Three: In December of that year we were married, which means that this year we’ll be celebrating our 20th Wedding Anniversary. 1992 was a big year.

Are you someone who takes note of milestone occasions? What milestones are you looking forward to celebrating?

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